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  • Writer's pictureSecond Opinion Magazine

The Safest Choices

Did you know that the pesticides that are used to spray most conventional crops sky rocketed after WWII when we realized we could use the same war-time nerve agents to kill bugs? That’s right, the same weapons used to kill enemy combatants are now being sprayed, although diluted, on our fruits and vegetables.

These chemicals enable foods to travel long distances and protect them from natural predators and pests, but they also do major harm when consumed. Dr. Oz says beware when you buy your produce which choices are the dirtiest.

Strawberries are one of the dirtiest fruits you can buy conventionally because most are imported from countries that have even less strict laws about pesticide use. Studies have found more than 59 pesticides have been detected in the residue on certain strawberries, and because they have external seeds they are more difficult to clean. Buying local strawberries is the safest way to go. If you can’t find local strawberries, soak the ones you do buy in a solution of equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water for 2 minutes to help loosen dirt and chemicals.

When buying apples choose organic, no question. Apples have been tested and revealed more than 42 different pesticides to help protect the crops from everything from fungi to insects. Conventional apples  may also contain food wax on them which makes them shiny and more appealing. So, if organic apples are not available, look for apples that actually smell like apples. This means that the wax is not there or is minimal. Always scrub apples before eating them. You can also choose apples that don’t look perfect. Perfection comes with modifying the crop; real organic apples aren’t always perfect looking.

Spinach is another dirty culprit and has been found laced with as many as 48 different pesticides. Because spinach is more vulnerable to bugs, there are often extra pesticides used to protect a crop. Adding to the mess is that when sprayed, much of the extra runs off into the soil and can contaminate groundwater and exposes other ground plants to those chemicals.

If you are cooking with the spinach, choose frozen. The process of washing and freezing it can remove as much as 90% of the pesticide residue.

With more than 63 pesticides detected, conventional peaches are one of the dirtiest foods you can eat. The delicate fuzz on the peaches acts like a sponge bringing water, sunlight, and pesticides into the fruit. For this food, a quick rinse won’t cut it. Wash with water and hydrogen peroxide solution if organic is not an option.

Now that you know what to avoid, here is some of the cleanest produce:

Onions’ thick outer layers act as a barrier from pesticides and protect the vegetable on the inside.

Corn husks are very strong and help protect the kernels. Their stalks are also very tall, giving it some distance from soil, where pesticide can seep.

Kiwi has a fuzzy outer skin that protects the fleshy fruit as it grows, creating an impermeable layer against pesticides.

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