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Safest Ways to Remove Pesticides from Fruits and Vegetables

Sunday, September 3rd 2023 10:00am 2 min read
Dr. Jessica Peatross dr.jess.md @drjessmd

Hospitalist & top functional MD who gets to the root cause. Stealth infection & environmental toxicity keynote speaker.

As the health effects of long-term pesticide exposure become increasingly evident, it’s important to thoroughly clean our fruits and vegetables before consumption. This doesn’t just apply to conventionally grown produce but also to organic produce which can be subject to cross-contamination during transportation or from natural sources in the soil or water. Here, we offer some of the safest, most effective ways to minimize your pesticide exposure.

1. Thorough rinsing

The first and most straightforward method is to rinse your fruits and vegetables under running tap water. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this can reduce and often eliminate residues on produce (FDA, 2021). It’s advised to rinse under running water rather than soaking or dunking to maximize the removal of lingering residues. For produce with tougher skins like potatoes and carrots, use a vegetable brush to scrub the surface during rinsing.

2. Soaking in a baking soda solution

A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2017 found that soaking fruits and vegetables in a solution of baking soda and water can effectively remove pesticide residues. The recommended ratio is one teaspoon of baking soda to two cups of water. Allow your produce to soak for about 15-20 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with clean water (Yang et al., 2017).

3. Vinegar wash

Vinegar is another household item that can aid in pesticide removal. Mix a solution of one part vinegar to three parts water. Soak your produce for 20 minutes and then rinse under cold water. This method has been shown to remove surface pesticides along with bacteria and viruses (Ong, 2016).

4. Peeling and trimming

When possible, peeling the skin or outer layer of your produce can effectively reduce pesticide residues. Similarly, trimming outer leaves of leafy vegetables can also help. However, it’s worth noting that peeling may also remove some beneficial nutrients that often reside in the skin or peel (Baker et al., 2002).

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