The best way to remove chemical residue from fruit has been found, and it’s peeling them. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst tested three different liquids to soak apples in for 12-15 minutes, the bleach solution that farmers dunk fruit in after harvest, a liquid slurry of baking soda, and plain old tap water. The baking soda was the best option for receiving surface pesticides. Even though the baking soda was effective, researchers concluded that peeling is the best way to avoid fungicides and pesticides as it’s the only way to remove some of the chemicals the fruit absorbs.
Things to Be Concerned About
Twenty percent of the fungicides and four percent of the pesticides scientists treated the apples with soaked into the flesh of the apple, and the only way to remove that is to peel it. For this experiment, the apples were soaked in fungicide for 24 hours. This is not a faithful recreation of conventional apple growing practices, and it’s likely that real-world apples have absorbed even more fungicide than those used in the experiment.
Of the three solutions, the one used by the agricultural industry is unlikely to have any effect at all. The positive baking soda results took 12-15 minutes to manifest. Apples are washed in a Clorox bleach solution for 2 minutes post-harvest, but researchers found that it did not effectively remove any pesticides. Organic produce can also use pesticides, and there’s no way to truly eliminate them, nor do standard industry practices suggest that considering consumer health is a priority.
Take it Off…
The solution offered again and again? Peel your fruits and vegetables! But this is problematic from a health viewpoint. That’s where a lot of the nutrients are, including much of the all-important fiber. Fiber is a critical component in fruit, as it’s the fiber that slows down the body’s absorption of the fruit’s natural sugars.
Fiber is not the only nutrient you reduce when the apple is peeled. A peeled apple has less potassium and vitamin C. It’s also missing compounds called triterpenoids that kill cancer cells and prevent the new cancer cells from growing. The peel also includes antioxidants that help prevent the oxidation of polyunsaturated fats.
Most Options Are Not Great Options
Don’t want any agricultural chemicals on your food? Only buy organic…but even that isn’t a failsafe. Organic food is still sprayed with approved pesticides, and our environment is so saturated with glyphosate that the likelihood of your organic apple coming into contact with it is quite good. Other solutions take away as much as the help. Peeling can eliminate a greater amount of pesticides, but it comes at the expense of health benefits. Safe food options are disappearing. Are we worried yet?
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- How to wash pesticides off apples, according to science – The Verge
- Effectiveness of Commercial and Homemade Washing Agents in Removing Pesticide Residues on and in Apples – Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
- Does the Apple Skin Have the Most Nutrients? – Livestrong
- Glyphosate Found in 93% of Urine Samples – Organic Lifestyle Magazine