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How can I reduce my exposure to pesticides?

The President’s Cancer Panel says chemical pollution, including chemicals found in foods, is causing preventable cancer, so how can you limit your exposure to residual pesticides left on food? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Buy as many fruits and vegetables as you can organically. Chemical pesticides and fertilizers are not used on organic produce.
  • Check out the Environmental Working Groups Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Foods. You can determine which produce has the highest levels of pesticide residue and choose to buy them organically or avoid them. You can also determine which produce has the lowest amount and serve them more frequently.
  • Choose frozen or canned fruits and vegetables over fresh. I know this sounds contradictory to what we’ve been taught about fresh produce being the healthiest, but in research on the USDA website, I found this one piece of information from a study titled USDA Pesticide Data Program. "Generally, samples with detectable pesticide residues were less abundant in processed foods where extensive washing, processing and /or heating is expected to remove or reduce residues. Notable exceptions of canned green beans and canned spinach demonstrate that some residues are more tolerant of processing than others presumably based on the chemical stability."
  • Based on the previous information about extensive washing, processing and/or heating, it seems that thorough washing of the surface of fruits and vegetables before eating may be helpful. A solution of one part vinegar to nine parts water is often recommended as a natural produce wash. Wash thoroughly and scrub with a vegetable scrubber. Be aware that porous fruits and vegetables may take on a vinegar taste/odor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.