Pesticides are not the best idea that modern agriculture ever had. By spraying and treating food crops with deadly chemicals they have managed to reduce the number of living things that feed off of the fruits of commercial farms. Unfortunately, that which is deadly to one consumer of the food is often harmful to another, and there is little doubt that excessive pesticide use is responsible for much of the toxicity in our environment. It is critically important that we take steps to minimize pesticide residues in our food. Here are four simple steps for you.
1. Buy organic.
Although the meaning of the word “organic” has weakened over the last few years, it still designates a large tradition of food production that emphasizes natural methods and tries to forgo pesticide use entirely. Although it is impossible for a consumer to eliminate pesticides completely while still eating store-bought food, careful selection and research will bring the levels down substantially.
2. Wash your food thoroughly.
This applies even to food that you normally peel and throw away the rind, because they sometimes have the highest concentrations of pesticides on them. Apples and grapes especially require careful washing before they are safe to eat, because they consistently test the highest in concentration of pesticides.
When washing your food, please do not use soaps or rinses. That only compounds the problem, adding more chemicals to the food while scarcely taking any away. Soaking vegetables is also not effective. The most efficient method is to simply scrub the rinds and peels well with your fingers or a clean scrub pad.
3. Dry your food.
After washing the food, it is equally important to dry it. Use a clean towel or a salad spinner. The mild abrasion, combined with the rinsing, will dislodge nearly all of the pesticides from the rind, and when the water is carried away it will take the chemicals with them.
4. Grow your own food.
Pesticides are a fact of modern farming life. They have permeated the entire agricultural system, and trace amounts of the chemicals are now found almost everywhere. Even if the farm that grows your food is as conscientious and thorough as they can possibly be, miniscule levels of pesticides will be found in their foods. Organic farming may be totally free of harmful chemicals, but any sort of large scale agricultural operation that does not use chemical fertilizers will require manure. There are so few large scale organic ranches to create manure that they will have no choice but to purchase manure with chemicals in it. The only way to completely avoid this problem is to grow your own food and procure your own fertilizer.
Fortunately, convenient indoor gardening and yard gardening is within the reach of everyone. Even people without a “green thumb” can grow their own food, save money on groceries, and cut their pesticide consumption dramatically. Simple kits are available online or in stores to grow completely organic and delicious vegetables in an area as small as a window box or a square foot garden. Growing your own vegetables is the surest way to ease the chemicals out of your system.