When you bring home your gleaming bags of fresh fruit and vegetables from the market, you might give them a quick rinse under the tap before you proceed to eat. Unfortunately, rinsing in water, or even peeling, only removes surface residue. It can’t remove traces of pesticides or industrial chemicals used in pre-consumer washing and processing. Pesticides are chemicals used to kill pests, including insects, rodents, fungi and weeds that damage crops. They can also pose toxic threats to human health.
To help consumers educate themselves, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit environmental research group based in Washington D.C., recently released its annual pesticide report which includes a Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The EWG Shopper's Guide ranks pesticide contamination of popular fruits and vegetables on more than 36,000 samples of produce tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This year, they found that nearly 70 percent of samples of 48 conventionally grown types of produce contained pesticide residue. Washing did not remove the pesticides, nor, in many cases, did peeling.