You Can’t Wash This Off

Conventional wisdom says that washing your vegetables gets rid of pesticide residues. Sorry, folks, but it’s just not true. Sure, washing your fruits and veggies is still a good idea, because it gets rid of dirt and other things that can stick to the outside your produce between the field and your kitchen. But pesticides, on the other hand, aren’t just on the outside. Even peeling a banana or an orange doesn’t get rid of all the chemicals, because they are inside the actual fruit. Plants primarily take up nutrients through their root systems, and that means that any harmful chemicals in the ground get taken up through those same roots. Remember methyl iodide? It’s a fumigant that is put directly into the soil to kill organisms that could be harmful to strawberries. This is a pesticide that scientists call one of the most toxic chemicals on Earth, and it’s going directly into the soil where strawberries are grown.

Experts say that the best way to avoid pesticide build-up in your body is to eat organic as much as possible. Within about a week, the non-persistent chemicals will exit your body. Persistent pesticides are the ones that are stored in fatty tissue, and they’re called “persistent” because they hang around for awhile. DDT is a persistent pesticide.

It is especially important for children and pregnant mothers to avoid pesticides. In the past week, there have been many articles released about pesticides in unborn fetuses, and how those chemicals affect development and growth. According to National Public Radio, children whose mothers had higher levels of pesticide residues in their bodies during pregnancy had a lower IQ at age 7.

The moral of the story is this: washing doesn’t cut it. To avoid the dangers of pesticide residues, which include developmental issues, cancer and neurological disorders, your best bet is to simply eat organic:

“Last year, the Presidential Board on Cancer came out with a statement encouraging Americans to choose foods without pesticides to limit risks for cancer.”

Williams, Kevin. “The Age of Toxic Anxiety.” Organic Processing March/April 2011: 34-43.

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