Toxins are all around us. Industrial fruit and vegetable farms indiscriminately blast their products with pesticides, to prevent insects and fungi from destroying the crops.
Spraying works reasonably well for protecting the yields but can be dangerous for the eventual consumer. There is nothing you want less than to swallow a mouthful of chemical pesticides when chowing down on your favorite healthy snack.
The following list will help you avoid pesticides and other toxins when buying produce.
1) Choose To Shop Organic And /Or Local
Buying natural can seem like a short-lived health trend that doesn’t have any actual authority behind it. In some cases this is true. However, in other instances, organic produce is the best option, despite a higher price tag and smaller, less impressive products.
When buying organic, buy local. You have a reassurance that there were no pesticides used in the growing of your fruit. Local sourcing has the dual benefit of supporting local farms within your community, and therefore having a face to put on the product. If you buy toxin-ridden fruits and vegetables from Walmart, you have no representative to complain to: the growers are thousands of miles away and not particularly interested in your ire.
More importantly, many entrepreneurs have recognized the opportunity for selling consumers overpriced, inferior produce, while labeling them ‘organic.’ These products often use similar techniques as the larger farms and abuse the lack of clarity behind the ‘organic’ name.
If you buy local, you can talk to the farmer or grower in charge of pest removal. Many local farms have begun to trend toward natural pest control techniques, which are a much better alternative to widespread chemical spraying. Another alternative is joining a CSA or even growing your own food. That way, you have clear control over pesticides used on your produce. There are many considerations for this line, though, including soil nutrient levels in the winter.
And if you’re worried, go and visit the farm. Tell them you’re interested in seeing how your food is grown/handled. Most local farmers will be extremely willing to accommodate. Accessibility is a considerable benefit over industrial farms.
Again, this costs more money, and is not necessary for every case. Supporting local farms is an excellent give-back to the community, but can put a strain on your wallet. Some produce is simply not worth the extra cash if you are a thrifty shopper.
2) Thin Skin/Thick Skin On Fruits And Vegetables
The simplest way of determining whether you should buy organic fruits and veggies is the thickness of a product’s skin. If the surface is thick — rind fruits or bananas, for instance — you shouldn’t have to worry much about the pesticide. The industrial toxins can’t easily penetrate the skin and assuming you are not eating the banana skin, you should be able to enjoy your fruits toxin-free.
On the other hand, fruits with remarkably thin skins — peaches, apples, strawberries, etc. — risk contamination. The pesticides will often penetrate or be absorbed through the exterior of the fruit and can be found almost anywhere within the fruit. In most cases these toxins will be harmless but can be dangerous if consumed regularly.
An important note: do not confuse rough skin with thick skin. Potatoes, though they may seem to have a thick skin, actually have a relatively thin skin, albeit a rough one. Potatoes are also on the list of veggies you might consider buying organically.
3) Wash Everything
Not everyone can shell out for organic produce. The easiest way to mitigate the harmful effects of pesticides is simple: wash your food. Studies are still underway as to the detrimental effects of pesticide on the system, but this much we already know: pesticides and pesticide residue is present on up to 80 percent of your produce.
The jury is still out on whether this pesticide is unduly harmful or not. One study found a correlation between pesticide consumption and cancer risk for young children. While you should never base your decisions off of a single, highly-disputed piece of evidence, this is certainly food for thought.
Further, it’s not as though washing your fruit is a tremendous sacrifice for your time and energy. Taking a few seconds to rinse the fine white frosting of pesticide off your strawberries might not do anything for your health. Then again, chronic consumption of pesticide toxins could lead to severe problems down the line. We can’t know for sure, but in lieu of clear scientific evidence on either side, the small temporal sacrifice seems worthwhile.
This is an extremely basic overview of the dangers and potential mitigating actions you can take to avoid overconsumption of pesticides. Your research should not end with this article, though. In this beautiful age of the internet, the resources available to you — and anyone else looking for a healthy produce outlet — are nearly endless.
Fresh eating apps are especially popular nowadays. These allow you to search and discover new sources of fresh and toxin-free produce every day. Many of them include pricing tools and customer reviews, so you won’t have to go out of your way to break your bank or leave dissatisfied.
There are also plenty of online and app resources to find the nearest clean farmer’s market, CSA, or other locally-sourced food farms.
Beyond that, keep abreast of the current research on organic foods and pesticide ingestion. New studies are regularly published on the potentially harmful effects of pesticides, as are studies claiming they are widely harmless. You will have to make your determination on the matter, and the best way to go about this is through careful research.
So you’ve started buying your thin-skins from the local farmer’s market. You chat with the growers and the farmers, and some of them have even given you a tour of their farms and showed you how the process goes down. You wash everything that you put on your plate and carefully scan the headlines for new revelations in the health revolution.
What now? You feel peaceful and healthy, and your toxin-free lifestyle is taking off. Where do you go from here?
You might enjoy reading Emily’s article on Should You Be Concerned About Toxins In Your Drinking Water?
If you have become fully invested in this lifestyle, there are a few options for giving back. Studies on healthy eating and toxins are always looking for volunteers, or those willing to take surveys on their food consumption. The apps you use will undoubtedly benefit from some well-constructed feedback on various farms or markets. You might even instruct your friends and family on the need to wash certain produce. The choice is yours!