As much as you don’t want to acknowledge the existence of pesticides or fertilizer residue on the peels of your produce, they are there and need to be thoroughly rinsed before consumption. Some pesticides are actually designed to penetrate the skin and enter the flesh of the certain produce items, making it so pests do not penetrate the skin.
Many experts recommend checking the Environmental Working Group’s list of the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen,” in order to prioritize which vegetables to buy organic. Both of the lists have updated recommendations about pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables, and tests are conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture after the produce is washed. Apples, strawberries, spinach, and nectarines top the “Dirty Dozen” list, meaning they have the highest pesticide residue. Quickly rinsing apples under the faucet isn’t enough to remove pesticide residues, so you need something stronger that doesn’t pose a threat to your health.
While you can purchase produce sprays at grocery stores, it’s often easier to use natural ingredients that have disinfecting properties. Distilled white vinegar and lemon are natural disinfectants, which work to remove any microbes on the skin. This decreases the chance of microbes or pesticide residue transferring to the fruit or vegetable after cutting it. Unlike water, vinegar and lemon work to remove that waxy coating that often seals in the previously existing pesticide residue on the skin.
Consumer Reports have found that there are 29 different pesticides in the average American adult’s body. While it’s likely that some of these pesticides enter the body via the environment or skin care products, most come from the foods people eat. For instance, consuming one serving of green beans that have been grown in the United States is 200 times riskier than consuming one serving of U.S.-grown broccoli. This is why you should wash your produce with the following spray.
DIY Produce Spray
- 5 cups filtered water
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 10 drops grapefruit seed extract (optional)
- Add all of the ingredients to a spray bottle and shake well to combine.
- Spray this on fruits and vegetables, except mushrooms, and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing and rinsing.
- Store in a cool dry place and use as needed.