With food prices skyward bound and no reprieve from pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables, fresh fruits and vegetables will soon become a luxury item for those who can afford chemical free and organic products.
The source for pesticide residues in our food could be through the application of pesticides on crops, with residues remaining in the fruits and vegetables or through the application of pesticides in homes to disinfect. Pesticide residues, once in our system can be the cause for several acute and chronic diseases. So removing the pesticides, as much as we can, is the first step forward.
As consumers we do not have any control on the pesticides that is sprayed on fruits and vegetables in the farms but there are some quick do-it-yourself techniques that can help us get rid of the residues to a large extent.
The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), released the Dietary Guidelines for India recently. The guidelines has introduced some simple steps which should be adopted by every household to remove the pesticide residual contamination. These easy steps should be cast in stone in every household.
- The first step in the removal of pesticide residues from the food products is washing. Washing with 2% of salt water will remove most of the contact pesticide residues that normally appear on the surface of the vegetables and fruits.
- About 75-80% of pesticide reduces are removed by cold water washing. The pesticide residues that are on the surface of fruits like grapes, apples, guava, plums, mangoes, peaches and pears and fruity vegetables like tomatoes, brinjal and okra require two to three washings.
- The green leafy vegetables must be washed thoroughly. The pesticide residues from green leafy vegetables are removed satisfactorily by normal processing such as washing blanching and cooking.
Fill up a large bowl or your kitchen sink (pre-cleaned, of course!) with 1 part vinegar and 4 parts water. Let your fruits/vegetables soak in this mixture for up to an hour (non-organic apples can soak for an additional 30 minutes to an hour). Remove the produce from the mixture, give them another quick rinse with water, and they are ready to eat!
Take a peek at the leftover “soaking water” after this process – you should be able to see all of the gunk that came off the produce! This mixture also helps to extend the life of your fruits and vegetables so that they last longer without spoiling.