In modern times, most fruits and vegetables sold in the market have pesticide residues.
Some farmers will even spray pesticides on their farm produce today and take the harvest to the market the next day. What does this mean? The consumer will end up consuming pesticide residues.
One thing to note is that pesticide intake can harm one’s health.
Some of the health problems one can get in the longrun after continued pesticide consumption include cancer, respiratory illnesses, neurological disorders, allergies, and reproductive health problems.
But, what will you do since you have no control over what farmers use on their farms? There are several tested and approved solutions!
Table of Contents
Washing Fruits and Veggies under Running Water
This is the most commonly used way to remove chemicals from food before consumption. Washing produce under running tap water removes pesticide residues by 75 to 80%.
Here are a few steps to follow:
1. To begin with, wash your hands thoroughly with dish soap and clean water to remove bacteria or dirt. You wouldn’t want to add more harm to your food!
2. Soak the fruits and vegetables in cold water for about five minutes to loosen the pesticide residuals
3. Drain the water you had used above to soak the produce
4. Rub your veggie and fresh fruit gently under running tap water, especially when cleaning delicate produce like citrus fruit, apples, and leafy greens.
You can use a gentle kitchen brush to clean the surfaces of fruits and vegetables with hard surfaces
Remember not to use warm water when cleaning your fruits or vegetables. Such water can promote the growth of bacteria in the stems of your produce.
Using Vinegar to Clean Fruits and Veggies
Several experts have declared that white vinegar can remove up to 98% of pesticide residues from your fresh produce.
In addition, white vinegar contains acetic acid, which helps dissolve the chemicals on the surface of your fruit or vegetable.
Another recent study has shown that vinegar can be used with salt and sodium bicarbonate to remove pesticides from fish. Yes, fish are victims too of pesticide exposure!
Here are the simple steps to follow with a vinegar solution to clean your fruits and veggies:
1. Fill your sink or basin with plain water
2. Add two tablespoons of vinegar to the water and ensure you mix the solution thoroughly.
As a rule of the thumb, add 1 part of vinegar to 3 parts of water.
In addition, you can add a teaspoon of lemon juice to the vinegar and water solution.
3. Add your apples, citrus fruit, or other fruit or vegetables to the solution and allow them to soak for around 15 minutes
4. After the lapse of the soak period, remove your fruits and vegetables from the solution and rinse them under a running tap.
5. Use a clean towel or air dryer to dry your produce
Using Baking Soda to Remove Pesticides from Fruits and Vegetables
As we have seen earlier, water can remove pesticide residues from the produce. However, adding some baking soda to some clean water produces better results than using water alone.
A study by Lili He, a food scientist, shows that washing apples in a baking soda solution remove more pesticide residues than using water only.
Here are several steps for removing pesticides from your fruit or veggie using a baking soda solution.
1. Get a bowl large enough to hold your veggies or fruits and fill it with water
2. Add some baking powder to the bowl of water and stir thoroughly.
As a rule of the thumb, add two tablespoons of baking soda to 1 cup of clean water.
Moreover, you can add one tablespoon of lemon juice for better results.
3. Add your fruits or vegetables to the baking soda solution and allow them to soak for about 15 minutes
4. Rinse the produce under a running tap and pat to dry
Blanching to Remove Pesticide from Fruits and veggies
Blanching is a perfect treatment, especially when you want to eat your farm produce immediately.
In addition, you will use warm water and salt to remove the pesticide from your fruits and vegetables.
Let’s see the steps in detail.
1. To begin with, follow the first process we talked about on cleaning your veggies and fruits under running cold water
2. Pour water into a kettle or pot and add some salt. Generally, a half teaspoon of salt is enough for about eight cups of water. Then, allow the water to boil to 100 degrees Celsius.
3. Pour the hot salt water solution on your veggies or fruits.
Remember that this should be a short process. So, allow the farm produce to stay in hot water for around 30 seconds and remove them.
4. Move the produce into a bowl of ice and give them an ice bath
One thing to note here is that blanching removes harmful bacteria and chemicals from your farm produce and cooks the produce.
Using Sonic Soak to Remove Pesticide Residue from Farm Produce
A sonic soak is the most effective way of removing pesticides from fruits and vegetables compared to the techniques we have spoken about above.
A sonic washing machine uses ultrasonic technology to clean farm harvest at a microscopic level. This machine can eliminate many types of chemicals from food, unlike the common cleaning processes.
In addition, this washing technology can access all the hidden and difficult-to-access parts of your produce. It will clean every pore you can miss when using a brush or other cleaning solutions.
Here are the steps to follow with this modern food cleaning technology:
1. Fill a basin or sink with clean water
2. Plug your sonic soak machine on the power source and place it in the water
3. Add your veggies or fruits into the water
4. Set the timer, press the start button, and sit back and watch the machine do the cleaning job for you
5. Once done, remove your produce and dry them with a soft clean cloth
Cooking Methods that Remove Pesticides from Farm Produce
Other than the most common farm produce cleaning techniques we have spoken about above, cooking too helps eliminate pesticides from food.
Something to note here is that the above techniques, apart from blanching, only remove pesticides from the surface of the produce.
However, cooking eliminates pesticides from food’s exterior and goes deep into the food to destroy the chemicals hiding there.
On the same note, a recent study was conducted to determine the most effective cooking process for removing pesticides from farm produce.
In particular, tests were done on two commonly consumed vegetables in several countries. These vegetables are Chinese kale and long bean (yard long bean).
Let’s now see how it went down for these two vegetables.
Chinese kale is a green leafy vegetable consumed mainly in China, Australia, Asia, and Thailand.
This vegetable has a flavor similar to broccoli but is more bitter than the latter. Moreover, Chinese kale is rich in Vitamins A, B & C, and minerals.
Studies show that 85% of the Chinese kale sold in Thailand has pesticide residues. In addition, these kales have a 28% pesticide detection rate above the Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) recommended in most developed countries.
Something more to note here is that most people eat these leafy vegetables raw, making them highly toxic if consumed for long.
Here are the results of the research on the effectiveness of pesticides removal using three cooking techniques (boiling, blanching, and stir-frying):
1. Boiling Chinese kale
Source: Google Scholar
2. Blanching Chinese kales
Source: Google Scholar
3. Stir-frying Chinese kales
Source: Google Scholar
In summary, results from the three cooking techniques on Chinese kale show that overall pesticide levels reduce as follows
Boiling:18 - 71 %
Blanching: 36 – 100%
Stir-frying: 25 – 60%
According to the above results, blanching produced better overall pesticide removal results from the Chinese kale.
However, as we shall see later, blanching won’t be highly effective in pesticide removal for the long bean compared to boiling.
Also, blanching will not produce great results in pesticide removal to okra, a cousin to the long bean.
Moreover, sautéing okra on a grill or another heat source produces better results in pesticide removal than blanching
Yard long bean
Yard long bean is mainly eaten in Thailand, though you can find it almost everywhere, with most people taking it raw and others taking it cooked.
In addition, the long bean is rich in Vitamin C & K and dietary fiber.
Research shows that all long beans sold in Thailand contain pesticides. Moreover, the beans had a 95% pesticide detection rate, higher than the recommended Maximum Residue Limit (MRL).
Let’s now see the effectiveness of the three cooking techniques (boiling, blanching, and stir-frying) on the pesticides commonly used on the long bean.
Source: Google Scholar
In summary, results show that pesticide levels were reduced at the following rates with the three cooking techniques:
Boiling: 38 – 100%
Branching: 27 – 28%
Stir-frying: 35 – 63%
Here, boiling the long bean produces better results in pesticide removal than the other two cooking techniques.
Pesticide Residue Removal Tips
1. Peal or remove outer leaves of fruits and vegetables where possible before consumption since large amounts of pesticides are stored here.
2. Don’t reuse cooking oil since it may contaminate your current cook with pesticide removed from a previous cook.
3. Organic produce is safer than conventionally grown produce
Here is a list of most and least contaminated produce:
Most contaminated produce
Least contaminated produce
Spinach, kale, mustard greens, and collards
Broccoli, cabbages, mushroom, and cauliflower
Frozen sweet peas
Bell and hot peppers
Fruits and vegetables are essential for your health. However, these two types of foods are the most contaminated by pesticides.
To avoid foodborne illnesses resulting from pesticide residues, go for organic produce whenever possible. Also, follow the above tips and steps on how to remove pesticides from fruits and vegetables, whether you are consuming organic produce or conventional one.
10. Chinese Kale