Why Washing Produce Does NOT Eliminate Pesticides

Lately I keep hearing people who are concerned about pesticides and herbicides in their foods say that they buy conventional produce, but wash it really well before eating or cooking.

They do this based on the belief that pesticides and herbicides mainly stay on the skin of fruits and vegetables, and that the thicker the skin, the clearer of toxic chemicals the fruit or vegetable will be.

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While it is true that fruits and vegetables with thinner skins would allow more of the chemicals in when sprayed directly, in most cases these chemicals are found in the pulp of produce.

The Dirty Dozen list published by the Environmental Working Group is based on the concentration of chemical toxins found in the whole fruit or vegetable, not just on the skin. This list reports every year which are the 12 most polluted items of produce, and also the 15 less contaminated items of produce.

Once a pesticide or herbicide is sprayed on a plant, whatever is not immediately absorbed by the plant ends up in the soil, either at that time, or later on, when it rains or the plant is watered. Eventually, these toxins sink into the soil and are absorbed by the roots of the plant in question, which is why they can be found inside the pulp of the fruit or vegetable.

Washing conventionally grown fruits vegetables may help reduce the amount of pesticides and herbicides found on the skin, but cannot possibly eliminate the chemicals inside them.

Buying organic produce is the only way to stay away from pesticides and herbicides in your food.

I see buying organic foods as a way to respect and help protect farmers. I do not want to buy cheaper foods if this means endangering the health of our family and the health of the agricultural workers that have to handle these toxic chemicals. Organic foods are worth the investment.

Stay away from the items listed in the Dirty Dozen. If you cannot afford to buy these organic, do not consume them. If you cannot afford to buy all organic produce, then buy the conventional versions of the Clean 15.

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