Any I will not start 2016 full of doom and gloom but I'll share some tips how to effectively reduce the risk that pesticides and pesticide riddled food pose to you and your family.
- Eat organic / organically grown fruit and vegetables
When I have complained to people they should eat organic I have often encountered the ambivalent responses “it says organic but how do we really know it is?” and “organic food is expensive and hard to find”.
Go to farmers market, get online and search for organic farmers in your area. If you understand the threat that pesticide poses you will take action.
- Grow your own to reduce the risk of pesticides
Now we are down to the nitty gritty. No-one wants to grow their own veg. Who could be bothered with all that? It's far easier to buy a tumor down the supermarket. It is the one thing that will eliminate almost the risk of pesticides. And, I can assure you it's not that difficult to grow your own and it really is one of the most rewarding things you can do on this earth. Yes, in an ideal world you could have more open space but it really is amazing what you can produce in a small greenhouse or even on a balcony that gets a fair amount of sunlight. And there are other ways to grow fruit and veg if space and time are limited. Hydroponic and aquaponic systems are easily assembled these days. You can even grow potted herbs on your windowsill. And with aquaponics you can also enjoy fresh organic fish all year round.
- Get a water filter
Recent studies by the UK government revealed that pesticide contamination in rivers and groundwater exceeded the allowable levels for drinking water. Pesticides evaporate and end up in the rain. They run off the ground and end up in streams and drains. And during our recent battering from storms they most certainly have leached from the ground into our rivers because of the heavy flooding.
There are many types of water filtration systems available but be sure to do some research before you buy because some systems are expensive and expensive does not always mean best.
- Eat fermented foods
All the years I lived in Korea eating kimchi several times a day I never realized it was protecting me from the damage pesticides can cause the central nervous system. The bacteria in fermented foods support your digestive system and help your body break down the harmful pesticides. However, since kimchi is an accepted taste and not always readily available like it is in Korea, supplementing with a high quality probiotic would be a good alternative.
- Wash fruit and veg thoroughly
I have read before that washing fruit and veg in water will not remove pesticide residue completely. This makes perfect sense as pesticides are designed to stick to the plant otherwise the first heavy shower of rain would wash the expensive killer clean off the plant. So, how do you effectively clean pesticide residue off?
Method 1: Vinegar- soak your veg in a solution 10% white vinegar and 90% water for 15 mins. Then rinse off with clean water.
Method 2: Spray- make up a solution with 15ml lemon juice, 2 tablespoons baking soda and about 200ml water. Mix until baking soda has dissolved then put solution in a spray bottle. Just spray on the fruit and veggies and let them sit for about ten minutes then rinse it off.
There are also some washing solutions available on the supermarket shelves but like everything else on the supermarket shelf approach with caution. The solution could be just as bad as the risk of pesticides.
It is safer to peel some veggies and fruits rather than wash them. For example I have not had an apple skin in about two years. Buy organic apples or peel apples bought in the supermarket. Apples are the worst, sometimes they are sprayed with as many as 8 different pesticides and they are sprayed continuously throughout the growing season. Minimize your risk from pesticides, better safe than sorry, peel them.
- Beware imports
Trade with countries such as China and India has increased and has left us vulnerable to pesticide exposure. Guidelines and regulations for pesticide use may not be as controlled as they are in the European Union. In some places there may be no regulations at all. Recently, garlic from China has triggered alarm bells because it was found to have very high concentrations of pesticide residue.
- Educate yourself
There is a list of fruits and vegetables called the Dirty Dozen that lists the 12 that contain several types of pesticide. You should certainly try to source these 12 organically.