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BY: Fleur Michell
If there’s one thing no-one wants for dinner, it’s a serving of pesticides. Just the idea is enough to turn your stomach, given some chemicals are suspected carcinogens that may cause health problems ranging from developmental disorders to birth defects. Fruits and vegetables may also harbour bacteria such as E. coli on their skin. Although Food Standards Australia New Zealand says chemical residues are at a safe level in both countries, you can still minimize your injestion of nasties by following these guidelines:
1. Don’t skip the rinse. It sounds obvious, but wash all produce before eating it. You don’t have to spend 30 minutes doing this or even bother soaking. “Some people go to extremes,” says food microbiologist Cathy Moir from CSIRO, “but I recommend a rinse.”
2. Heat it up. Heating or cooking fruit and veggies to a high temperature will kill microorganisms, says Moir.
3. Peel. Always remove the skin from melons and oranges, since whatever’s on the skin can be transferred to your hands.
4. Buy organic. The Organic Federation of Australia says that nonorganic farming can involve more than 300 pesticides! To avoid injestion, buy organic when you can, but don’t stress if you can’t afford to always go organic. Just focus on organic alternatives for produce with the highest pesticide amounts: apples, capsicums, grapes and strawberries. Foods lowest in pesticides include avocados, mangoes, broccoli and pineapples, so you don’t always have to buy organic when it comes to those. (You still need to wash everything to remove natural fertilisers.)
5. Avoid wax. Wax -- which is sometimes used to protect fruits and vegetables from mould and bruising -- locks in pesticides, so beware. Smell the fruit’s stem. If it doesn’t smell like food, it’s probably waxed.
6. Try packaged. Due to diligent washing and peeling, canned produce, juices, and dried and frozen produce often have lower residue levels.
7. Eat a variety. Consume a wide variety of produce to minimize exposure, instead of just a few things that may have too many pesticides you don’t know about.
8. Grow your own. Last but not least, get close with the earth and cultivate it yourself! Cherry tomatoes, chilies and herbs grow well in pots.
Like this article? Comment below or connect with us @OralCareHealth Australia
Fleur Michell is the managing editor of Oral Care and Health Daily (Australia & New Zealand). She has written numerous health articles for such national publications as New Idea, Take 5, Cosmopolitan Pregnancy, Diabetic Living and The Sunday Telegraph’s Body+Soul.
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