Research indicates that baking soda can remove as much as 96% of pesticides from our fruits and vegetables. Buying organic produce would still be the best option, but if you’re struggling to eat 100% organic this handy trick will be a big help.
Fruits and veggie samples from the grocery store were found to have traces of up to eleven different chemicals. The raisin sample had residue from thirteen pesticides. Seriously, that is thirteen different kinds of pesticides for just one crop.
Research conducted by the University of Massachusetts revealed that baking soda removed almost all of the pesticide residue from produce when it was mixed with water and rubbed on apple skins. This simple process took fifteen minutes.
This method has proven to be more effective than bleach, vinegar, or blanching. The second best option would be to wash produce with 2% salt water as shown in a 2002 study, but the percentage range was still lower than baking soda at 75-80%. How does this common kitchen and cleaning staple provide such tremendous results? Previous research shows that baking soda’s highly-alkaline pH breaks down the chemicals into harmless molecules. The produce can then be rinsed off and consumed.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Lili He from the University of Massachusetts, stated: “Pesticide residues may remain on agricultural produce, where they contribute to the total dietary intake of pesticides. Concerns about potential hazards of pesticides to food safety and human health have increased, and therefore, it is desirable to reduce these residues.”
Dirty Dozen List
The Environmental Worker’s Group released a dirty dozen list after reviewing numerous studies as to what fruits and vegetables were contaminated the most by pesticides. You will notice that all of this produce listed below is very thin-skinned. The exceptions to this list do not mean that you will not be exposed to pesticides, but just not as heavily.
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Grapes (Imported)
The debate continues about human exposure to pesticides, but nevertheless, the research on the negative health effects of pesticides only continues to increase. The National Institute of Health contends: “Ideally, a pesticide must be lethal to the targeted pests, but not to non-target species, including man. Unfortunately, this is not the case, so the controversy of use and abuse of pesticides has surfaced. The rampant use of these chemicals, under the adage, “if little is good, a lot more will be better” has played havoc with human and other life forms…there is now overwhelming evidence that some of these chemicals do pose a potential risk to humans and other life forms and unwanted side effects to the environment.”
The Link Between Pesticides and Cancer
Of the 240 pesticides screened for carcinogenic effects, at least 10% produce thyroid follicular cell tumors in rodents. Thirteen of the thyroid carcinogens also produced liver tumors in rodents, and nine produced tumors at other sites in the bodies of rodents. This study was conducted in 1998, but the incidences of Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and Grave’s Disease continue to climb at an alarming rate. It is frightening to consider the possibility that our country’s overuse of pesticides is contributing to these diseases and many other endocrine system disruptions because many pesticide chemicals are known to mimic the effects of endocrine hormones.
Associations between pesticide exposure and cancer have also been linked to leukemia, lymphoma, brain, kidney, breast, prostate, pancreas, liver, lung, and skin cancers according to the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing.
In light of these studies and many others, taking the time to wash our fruits and vegetables in a baking soda solution doesn't seem like a sacrifice. Better yet, spending a little more on the grocery budget to buy organic produce seems like a small price to pay for prevention.
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