A balanced diet must include a good portion of fruits of vegetables for the nutritional value it adds to the human body.
However, according to a March-2020 report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an America activist group, close to 70% of the fresh foodstuff sold in the United States contains residues of toxic pesticides.
The EWG arrived at the conclusion after an analysis of the latest test data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The list contains many popularly consumed fruits and vegetables as susceptible to retaining the toxins they were exposed to, including apples, strawberries, celery, grapes, spinach, peaches, imported nectarines, cucumbers, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and potatoes.
The EWG also lists some vegetables and fruits as least contaminable in other words, those least likely to hold pesticide residue.
These include pineapples, avocados, eggplant, frozen sweet peas, onions, papayas, kiwis, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cabbage, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.
In fact, an article on www.healthyandnatural-world.com even states that avocados make for the cleanest produce, with only 1% of the produce showing any detectable pesticides.
Why it is more worrisome in India
While federal organisations in the US recommend buyers to go for products certified as organic, in India the situation is even more dismal.
According to some experts including natural farmers, even some of the organic produces in India have close to 30% toxic residues from the pesticides used on them during farming.
However, the good news is that toxins can washed off from most produces. Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a not-for-profit, public-interest research and advocacy organisation in India founded by the late environmentalist Anil Agarwal in 1980, states that diligently washing fresh produce in cold water can reduce close to 80% of toxic residues from the produce.
We found some more ideas on the website of the Healthy and Natural World (HNW) on how one can clean vegetable and fruits with some basic items available at home.
Vinegar and water to the rescue
Some toxins give in easily to a homemade mix of white vinegar and water. Make a solution of 10% vinegar and 90% water and soak your fruits and vegetables in it for about 20 minutes. Then, rinse the produce in fresh water. Your fruits and vegetables are ready to be savoured.
While it is recommended not to try this with fragile fruits with porous skin, such as berries, for they might absorb too much of the vinegar, many report there is no change in taste or feel of the fruit after soaking it in the above solution.
If you do not have white vinegar at home, you may use lemon instead.
Salt and water rinse
Another basic ingredient found in most kitchens that also work wonders on removing toxins from fresh produce is salt. As per the CSE, soaking fresh produce in a 2% saltwater solution for some time will help remove pesticide residues from its surface.
Vinegar, salt and water
As per HNW, the best way to remove toxic residues from cabbage is by immersing it in a solution of vinegar, salt and water. In fact, a 10% salt and water solution also turned in good results, says the magazine.
Baking soda makes a clean sweep
While a baking-soda-and-water solution might not really be effective in ridding a produce such as apple off toxins that have penetrated its skin or peel, it could still clean the produce a lot better than just plain water would.
Lemon and hot water
This one’s for apples that a tiny layer of wax coated over it for the extra effect of looks. Once you have cleaned those beautiful looking apples in cold running water, wash them in a mixture of lemon juice and warm water. The warm water ensures the layer of wax on the apple’s skin gets washed off.