When walking through the grocery store produce section, have you ever grabbed a grape from a bunch to taste? Or do you refrain for one reason or another? Do you cringe when people do this? What about once you’re home? Do you open the bag and start snacking?
There are actually some good reasons you probably shouldn’t do this. There might be dirt or germs from being out in the open. Almost anyone could have handled them. Many of these fruits and vegetables have pesticides on them that you need to remove before eating.
There have been great strides made in recent years towards developing more food-safe pesticides for use in crop farming. Agriculture has come a long way, but there’s still important information we need to learn before eating unwashed produce.
There’s no need for alarm or panic if you’ve done some of these things, though. There are quite a few misconceptions about pesticides in our food that we hope to debunk in this article.
Why Pesticides Are Used in Agriculture
Farmers use pesticides to fight a wide variety of potential problems for their crops. These include the more obvious, such as insects and rodents, but they can also help to fight mold, bacteria, and viruses. Pests and disease reduce the productivity of crops, so scientists developed pesticides to keep these plants healthy and immune to infection.
This is wonderful for crop production and keeping plants from dying. But, it’s important to understand why washing your fruits and vegetables is essential. Pesticides can be on the produce you buy, but there’s also a chance that several people picked up the apple you’re buying before you. Just as we often know too little about pesticides, we also don’t know who handled our food before us.
Pesticides in Food
Due to the mass spraying of pesticides on crops, a trace amount of pesticides make their way into our grocery stores and, ultimately, into our homes every day. Producers may thoroughly rinse your produce before shipping items to stores. But there can always be remnants of the chemicals left behind on your fruit and veggies.
Experts recommend washing your produce in a baking soda and water solution. Leave them in the solution for 15 minutes before rinsing. If pesticide residue on your food concerns you, you can also buy organic produce instead. Organic produce is grown without the use of pesticides, which makes it more expensive than conventional produce, but better than forgoing fruits and vegetables altogether.
Pesticide Residue in Food
Some may argue that these pesticides are dangerous. They claim they can enter our bodies and cause endless amounts of harm. Again, there’s no need to panic. The processing systems used in agriculture wash and rinse your fruit and vegetables before they make it to the store. You should still thoroughly wash them once you get home to decrease the amount of pesticides consumed by you and your family.
Yes, it’s always a good idea to rinse your produce again at home before eating. But rest assured the residual pesticides that may be on your food aren’t as harmful as some may lead you to believe. Companies work towards ensuring they meet the maximum legal residue limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency. This keeps their products safe for continued consumption.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does regulate the use of pesticides. They regularly test the safety of pesticides and their effects as regularly as once every 15 years. The regulations and testing done by the EPA ensure that our food stays safe.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for enforcing these regulations. They are also responsible for the testing of over 700 pesticides and residues. Our knowledge about the safety of pesticides and chemicals is constantly developing. So, in theory, the substances used to fight off pests should be constantly evolving.
According to the EPA, today’s foods, even those grown using pesticides, are safer than ever before. While this may be the case, less toxic options are becoming more popular—as is the hope of bringing entirely food-safe pesticides into the agricultural world. Pesticides may not be nearly as harmful as believed to be, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make them even safer for long-term consumption.
Rather than fight against the use of pesticides in agriculture, the focus should be on developing safer alternatives. Pesticides protect our crops. There’s always room for improvement, but we shouldn’t overlook their role in agriculture either.