The Sustainable Diets Blog

Eating, Wellness, Gardening, Recipes and Loving our Planet. By Teri Underwood.

Diet Tips to Minimize Pesticide Residues

SHOPPING AND FOOD PREPARATION GUIDELINES

DO NOT avoid fruits and vegetables! The risk to your health of avoiding them is much greater than the risk posed by pesticide residues.

EAT A PLANT BASED DIET, eat low on the food chain; avoid high fat animal products unless they are pasture raised.

BUY ORGANIC. Look for the USDA Organic seal.

WASH all produce well, using a drop of mild, natural dishwashing soap in a pot of water.

SCRUB the skins of produce with a vegetable scrub brush.

PEEL the skins of fruits and vegetables that have been waxed. Waxing locks in pesticide residues and wax can also lock in fungicides, which are a group of pesticides that carry a higher toxicity. The most commonly waxed produce includes apples, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants, and green and other peppers. Waxed produce may look shiny and feel greasy.

DISCARD the outer leaves of lettuce and cabbage.

TRIM leaves and tops of celery

AVOID FOREIGN PRODUCE. A large percentage of America’s produce in the winter comes from Mexico, China, and other foreign countries which may have different regulatory standards. Pesticides that are illegal in this country are still used in some countries and some of these pesticides are very toxic! Although produce with illegal pesticide levels are banned, the responsible government agency–the Food and Drug Administration has only so many inspectors on staff. Less than 1% of foreign produce is actually inspected. To determine if produce is from a foreign country look for the Country of Origin Label (COOL) label, required by law. See the page on food labels under the buying green section on this website for resources on shopping green and the COOL label.

BUY TRANSITIONAL ORGANIC or IPM PRODUCE. Transitional is in the process of becoming organic (it takes at least 5 years) and is being grown without pesticides. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a farming practice that results in less pesticide use in the production, handling, and/or storing of produce. Ask your farmer at the local farmers market if they use pesticides on the produce. Ask your grocery store manager to stock produce grown with less pesticides such as IPM or transitional organic.

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