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How CLEAN are Your Fruits and Veggies?

Washing Off Pesticides

You can wash off some surface pesticides. I’ll give some washing instructions in a minute. But I first want to discuss pesticides that seep into the plants. Systemic pesticides are chemicals that are actually absorbed by the plants and are also applied to the seeds, soil or leaves. These chemicals circulate through the plant’s tissues and get into their water. Unlike traditional insecticides, they can’t be washed or peeled off.

There are four main systemic pesticides used on crops that are members of the nitroguanidine/neonicotinoid group of chemicals that have been implicated in the colony collapse that has killed millions of honeybees. They are as follows:

1. Imidacloprid —applied to many vegetables (including tomatoes and leafy greens) right up to the day they’re harvested.

2. Thiamethoxam —first approved as a seed treatment for corn in 2002, and thiamethoxam products that are applied to the soil have since been approved for use on most vegetable and fruit crops. 

3. Clothianidin is used as a seed treatment on canola, cereals, corn and sugar beets, and as a soil treatment for potatoes.

4. Dinotefuran can be applied to soil or sprayed on leafy greens, potatoes, and cucumber family crops.1

Each year the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) evaluates the pesticides sprayed on fruits and vegetables and publishes a list of the worst offenders they call  “The Dirty Dozen” and the least sprayed know as “The Clean Fifteen.” Strawberries came in as the #1 worst offender for sprayed foods. The USDA Pesticide Data Program found that 45 different pesticides are sprayed on strawberries—6 are known or probably carcinogens, 16 are suspected hormone disruptors, 7 are neurotoxins, 6 are developmental or reproductive toxins, and 12 are honeybee toxins.2

The Dirty Dozen

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Potatoes

The Clean Fifteen

(The least sprayed fruits and vegetables.)

  • Avocados
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapples
  • Frozen sweet peas
  • Onions
  • Papayas
  • Eggplants
  • Asparagus
  • Kiwis
  • Cabbages
  • Cauliflower
  • Cantaloupes
  • Broccoli
  • Mushrooms
  • Honeydew melons

It is always best to buy organic produce, but if you can’t purchase everything organic, at least make sure you always purchase organic produce that is on the Dirty Dozen list and those just below. For those that are not heavily sprayed and don’t have systemic pesticides sprayed on them you can wash them as follows:

  1. Use vinegar to wash off bacteria and wax. Use 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. For best results, soak in vinegar water for 10-20 minutes.
  2. Use a commercial fruit and veggie wash. These products will get rid of surface pesticides wax and bacteria. Or you can make your own cleaner with 1 TBSP lemon juice and 2 TBSP white vinegar or baking soda mixed in 1 cup water.

(You can download EWG’s app for free and take it shopping with you. Go to ewg.org)


1 https://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/environmental-policy/systemic-pesticides-zmaz10onzraw

2 All pesticide residue results on WhatsOnMyFood (http://whatsonmyfood.org/food.jsp?food=ST#f1) were obtained by the United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) Pesticide Data Program (PDP)

Today’s Recipe

Anti-Inflammatory Cocktail

serves 2

Fennel: anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine, analgesic, and antioxidant

Apple: inhibits the development of allergies; rich in histamine-lowering quercetin

Cucumber: analgesic (pain killer); antioxidant that prevents the synthesis of the inflammatory compound prostaglandin

Broccoli: anti-carcinogenic, prevents gastric mucosal damage (suggesting potential histamine-lowering action)

Ginger: as effective as an H2 receptor antagonist prescription drug

  • 1 green apple
  • ½ large fennel with fonds
  • 1-inch-piece ginger root
  • 1 large broccoli stem
  • 3 leaves kale
  • ½ cucumber, peeled if not organic

Cut produce to fit your juicer. Start by juicing the apple and finish with the cucumber. Drink as soon as possible.

Shopping List

  • 1 broccoli
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 fennel bulb with fonds
  • 1-inch piece ginger root
  • 1 green apple

From The Anti-Inflammatory Diet

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