It is important that you reduce your exposure to pesticides - powerful chemicals that post health risks. Currently, pesticides are being used more than ever before, meaning human consumption of pesticides is at higher levels than have ever been seen. This high consumption of pesticides is very problematic because they can cause reproductive problems, neurological problems, cognitive problems, and developmental problems. Many pesticides are also endocrine disruptors, meaning they prevent your own hormones from functioning properly. Knowing the number of negative effects pesticides cause, you may be wondering how you can reduce your exposure to pesticides. Fortunately, there are several different ways you can decrease your pesticide exposure.
1. Organic Produce
The easiest way to reduce your exposure to pesticides is to purchase organic produce. Organic farmers are prohibited from using harmful pesticides on their produce. Therefore, when you eat organic produce you can be sure that you are not getting pesticides. Of course, organic produce can be quite costly, so you may choose to buy only the organic produce items that have the most pesticides when they are grown conventionally. These are known as the Dirty Dozen - apples, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, peppers, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, spinach, kale, and strawberries. Buying these produce items organic will drastically reduce your pesticide load.
2. Clean 15
Another option you have when you are looking to reduce the amount of pesticides in your diet is to stick to produce that is known as the Clean 15. The Clean 15 is a group of produce items that you can purchase conventionally knowing that there is very little pesticide residue. This is a great option if you find your budget does not allow you to buy organic produce. The Clean 15 are asparagus, avocado, cabbage, cantaloupe, sweet corn, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mangos, mushrooms, onions, papaya, pineapples, sweet potatoes, and frozen sweet peas.
3. Shop at Farmers’ Markets
Shopping at farmers’ markets is a great way to get organic produce at a great price. Often, farmers will not be certified organic because it is too costly for them to go through the certification process; however, they still uphold organic standards and do not use pesticides. Usually, you will see a sign that designates if a farm avoids pesticides, but not all farmers advertise their organic practices. Ask the farmers if they spray their produce. They are always more than happy to talk to you about their farming practices, and you may be pleasantly surprised that they do not use any pesticides.
4. Wash Produce
When you can’t purchase organic produce, washing your produce is an important step to take that can help remove some pesticides. The key to washing produce to remove pesticides is to wash it for a fair amount of time. Also, homemade and commercial produce cleaners are much more effective at removing pesticides. If you want to make your own produce cleaner, you simply have to combine 1 cup of water with 1 cup of white vinegar, 1 tablespoon of baking soda, and the juice of half a lemon. Mix all of these ingredients together and put them in a spray bottle. Then, when you want to wash your produce spray the cleaner on the produce, let it sit for 5 minutes, and wash it off.
5. Peel Your Produce
While I think there are many important nutrients in the skin of many produce items, sometimes it is better to remove the skin. Unless you are able to buy organic apples and cucumbers, you should remove the skin. Many of the pesticides are found in the skin and removing it will help reduce your pesticide exposure. Of course, this won’t eliminate all of the pesticides, but it will decrease the amount you are consuming.
6. Organic Animal Products
Often, when people think of pesticides they think of fruits and vegetables. However, if animals are fed food that is laden with pesticides, the pesticides accumulate in their meat, fat, and milk. In reality, when you consume conventional animal products you may be getting even more pesticides than when you consume conventional produce. To reduce your pesticide exposure from animal products, it is very important to purchase organic. Since this is costly, you should at least always buy organic milk, which does not have any pesticides. Also, limiting the amount of animal fat you consume will help because most pesticides are found in the fat.
7. Avoid Processed Foods
Processed foods often contain corn and soy products, which have high amounts of pesticides on them. Also, unless they are organic, you can be sure that any produce items in the product have pesticides. This means that in a single meal of processed food you could be getting quite an amount of pesticides. Avoiding processed foods is a good idea anyway because they contain many other ingredients that have a negative impact on your health. Sticking to whole foods is a much better option.
People are much more aware of the negative effects of pesticides than they used to be. As a result, many people are looking for ways to limit the amount of pesticides they are exposed to. By reducing your pesticide load, you will be doing your body a huge favor and you should be much healthier in the long run. What steps do you take to decrease the amount of pesticides you consume?