In an ideal world we’d have money growing on trees that we could spend on as much fresh organic produce as we liked (that’s the dream 😉). However, for a lot of us, buying only organic foods won’t keep us within our budget, so sometimes we have to compromise.
Prioritising certain organic foods over others can help to reduce and even eliminate much of the pesticides from your foods as some are more prone to being pesticide-laden than others.
Prioritising Certain Organic Foods
In my household, we prioritise buying the “Terrible 20” organic produce and not worry too much about the “Fab 14” when our budget is tight. I got these lists from The Micronutrient Miracle where they share the least pesticide-laden to the most pesticide-laden foods, in order of priority (it’s one of my all-time favourite nutrition books!).
The Fab 14 and Terrible 20 Shopping Guide
All these foods are listed from best (lowest pesticide content) to worst (highest pesticide content).
Fab 14 (ok to buy conventionally grown):
- Sweet peas
- Kiwi fruit
- Sweet potatoes
Terrible 20 (always buy organic):
- Sweet corn
- Hawaiian papaya
- Summer squash (zucchini or yellow crookneck)
- Kale/collard greens
- Hot peppers (chilli)
- Soybeans (edamame)
- Snap peas
- Cherry tomatoes
- Sweet bell peppers (capsicum)
It’s especially important that you wash non-organic produce, but I still wash organic produce I’ve bought at the store as well, just to be on the safe side.
Fruit and Vegetable Washes
A lot of popular store-bought fruit and vegetable washes have been found to contain chlorine (which is used to kill bacteria on the produce), but what’s more, these washes were found to be quite ineffective.
Alas, it was found that many commercial washes or vinegar rinses were able to completely remove wax or pesticides from produce.
But, homemade fruit and veggie rinses have been found to be quite effective at removing unwanted residue from produce, plus, they can help preserve the fridge-life of these foods due to the removal of bacteria.
The most effective way to do this is to use different washes for different foods, but here are the 3 recipes I use (courtesy of Wellness Mama) to clean almost any type of fruit or veggie.
Washing Most Fruits and Veggies
One of the simplest and most common ways to naturally clean produce is to use plain white vinegar. For majority of produce with a skin, this is what I use to clean it. Simply place the fruits and vegetables in a large bowl or freshly cleaned kitchen sink, fill with water, and add 1 cup of white vinegar.
Let it soak for up to 1 hour, then scrub the produce gently and rinse.
Let the produce dry fully before placing it in the fridge to prevent decay.
Berries are not an easy food to clean, as they are so delicate and tend to take on any flavour they come into contact with (no one likes the taste of vinegar berries).
Using lemon juice that’s been diluted with water is a great way to clean berries without them taking on the taste of other flavours. Mix 2 cups of water with 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice and spray onto the berries. Make sure the berries are fully coated before placing them in fresh water to soak for about 15 minutes. Let them dry completely before storing them in the fridge.
Washing Lettuce and Greens
Lettuce and greens are quite delicate, and therefore can be a challenge to wash. What’s more, they can often contain insects.
To wash greens, dissolve 2 tbsp of salt in 2 cups of water and add lemon juice (about 1 lemon’s worth). Spray this solution onto the greens, then let them sit for about a minute or so before moving them to the sink with diluted vinegar water. Let them soak for about 15 minutes, then rinse them in cold water and allow them to dry completely before moving them to the fridge.
Storing greens in mason jars in the fridge can help them to stay fresher for longer.
As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before trying or using any new products.
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Do you opt to buy organic? Where do you source your fruits and veggies from?
Wells, Katie. (January 8, 2019). DIY Fruit and Vegetable Wash (& Preserver). Wellness Mama. Retrieved from https://wellnessmama.com/28/fruit-vegetable-wash/
Calton, Jayson, PhD, Calton, Mira, CN. (2015). The Micronutrient Miracle. Rodale Inc. 733 Third Avenue, New York.
How To Remove Pesticides From Fruits And Vegetables. (April 24, 2015). Happy Healthy Mama. Retrieved from https://happyhealthymama.com/how-to-remove-pesticides-from-fruits-and-vegetables.html
Natural Cleaners to Get Wax Off of Fruits and Vegetables. SFGate. Retrieved from https://homeguides.sfgate.com/natural-cleaners-wax-off-fruits-vegetables-79334.html
Martinko, Katherine. (January 29, 2016). Make your own veggie and fruit wash. Tree Hugger. Retrieved from https://www.treehugger.com/green-food/make-your-own-veggie-and-fruit-wash.html