Money Mondays: How to Remove Pesticides from Produce When You Can’t Afford Organic

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This post is by Bernie Carr,

We all want to eat a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables.  But you can’t help but wonder about the safety of ingesting pesticides that end up in produce. While I’d like to buy organic fruits and vegetables, my budget is not always so accommodating.

If you do any food preservation such as canning or drying, you’ll also want to make sure you are able to reduce or eliminate pesticides from your produce. Let’s take a look.

Choose wisely

Each year, the Environmental Working Group comes out with the Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables. For 2019, they are:

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Potatoes

In general, fruits and vegetables with thicker skin such as bananas and avocados have less pesticides than those with thin skin.

Wash all produce

If you do nothing else, wash your produce before consuming, as washing actually lessens the amount of pesticides. Washing can cause produce to deteriorate faster in the fridge, so wash right before use. Even if you are cutting a thick skinned fruit such as cantaloupe or watermelon, wash thoroughly, as the knife can transmit any germs or pesticides from the outer skin into the consumable part.

Peel it

When I eat non-organic apples, I wash them and peel off the skin. This way, I don’t get any pesticides or wax sitting on the apple skin. Unfortunately, peeling also removes any nutrients that were in the apple peel.

Baking soda wash

According to an article in Popular Science, a baking soda wash actually works better than water alone, and even beats out any commercial produce washes. But you need to soak the fruit for about 15 minutes for maximum benefit. However, it may not remove ALL types of pesticides, just the ones included in the study done by The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The final word

I figure a method that has been found to work is better than doing nothing at all. I will continue to peel fruit if I am able to or soak in baking soda and water to get rid of or at least lessen the amount pesticides in my produce.

What about you – are you concerned about pesticides in fruits and vegetables? What do you do to lessen or remove pesticides? Please share in the comments.


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Image by Jasmine Lin from Pixabay


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One comment

  1. Good article. Thanks. From gardening, I know that store-bought potatoes often have a chemical on them to retard sprouting in storage. A quick Google check shows the chemical to be a herbicide named chlorpropham and that it’s on 76% of all “conventional” potatoes. Washing removes 33-47%. Peeling removes 91-98%.

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