J500 Media and the Environment


Does water wash away pesticides? by micolea

I enjoy eating fruit. I would even go so far as to declare myself a fruit lover. Often, I find myself nibbling on slices of mango, crunching into an apple and noshing on pieces of a pear.


Photo by mbgrigby/Courtesy Flickr

Recently, I have found myself consistently craving the sweet and slightly tart flavor of apples. So much so, that for the past two weeks I have eaten an apple every day. I always rinse fruit before I consume it. Usually, this routine consists of me holding the fruit under a stream of water for about 10 seconds. Normally, this would appease me, but now that I have discovered that apples rank second in terms of fruits and vegetables containing pesticides, it leaves me with a sour feeling in my stomach.

I try to be a conscious consumer and like to purchase organic when my monetary budget allows for it. The Environmental Working Group’s publication of the “Dirty Dozen,” a list of 12 vegetables and fruits with the highest pesticide residue and the “Clean 15”, those produce with the lowest amount of pesticides, provides useful information about which produce should be purchased organically. The majority of the fruits and vegetables that are considerably pesticide laden are those with a thin outer skin.

There are varying opinions about how to clean produce in order to get rid of bacteria and pesticides. Some advise that water and a scrub brush is all that is needed to wash away unwanted waxes and pesticides from produce. While others think using a fruit and vegetable cleaner is the best and safest bet. Washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating reduces the amount of pesticides, but does not completely eliminate them.

A peer-reviewed study released in 2008, found vast amounts of pesticides in children who ate an assortment of conventional foods. Consequently, when these same children substituted organically grown fruits and vegetables into their diets, no traces of pesticides were found. Scientists who study the effects of peoples continual low-level exposure to pesticides are still investigating how will it affect our health in the long-term.

Nevertheless, the decision is still ours.

No, not all of the food I eat is organic, and I’m sure that there will still be times when I eat a conventionally grown apple. However, I will be more inclined to purchase peaches, apples and strawberries from a co-op rather than a commercial foods store. It’s a compromise; but now I know which produce items to compromise on and which ones are worth the splurge.  

Micole Aronowitz

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4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Micole,
I really enjoyed your post! I am wondering, when you decide whether to go organic or conventional with produce, do you only consider your health or environmental costs as well? Do you think health is the main reason most people buy organic? Or do you think there is an environmental guilt-trip, too? -Kristina B.

Comment by kristinabev

Kristina,

Thanks for reading my post. To answer your question, when deciding whether to purchase organic, I try to take into consideration both environmental and health aspects- but normally health aspects take top priority. The organic food I buy, I buy because I have peace of mind knowing it was grown without the use of pesticides. As far as the reason why people buy organic, I think it is a combination of health and environmental aspects. I think people choose to purchase organic because they feel it is a better and safer option and at the same time they are giving back to Mother Earth.

Micole A.

Comment by micolea

Micole,

Did you find out about what health effects can come from eating pesticide-laden fruit? Or do you know if it’s worse for children than for adults? It changes the “eat your fruits and vegetables” for me a bit.

Sean T.

Comment by Sean Tokarz

Sean,

Scientists and doctors are still investigating the long-term health effects of eating fruits and vegetables that contain pesticides. There is great concern about how it will affect children and if there is a correlation between pesticides and learning and behavioral disabilities. I have included a link to an article discussing the topic of the dangers of pesticides in food products.
http://www.seattlepi.com/local/349263_pesticide30.html

Thanks for your question.

Micole A.

Comment by micolea




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