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You Ask, I Answer: Pesticides in Produce

washing-vegetables-225Do we know if pesticides are absorbed after being sprayed on the surface of produce?

Do we need to be concerned if we wash the fruit or vegetables well before eating?

— Nicole Journault
Via the blog

All pesticides are not created equal.  While some don’t make it past fruit skins and peels, others are absorbed into the flesh.

Similarly, some pesticides can be rinsed off with water (contrary to popular belief, rinsing under running water is more effective than soaking), and others are  specifically created to be resistant to water (so as to not be washed off by rainfall.)

Remember, too, that many conventional fruits are treated with wax, which often times traps pesticides in the skin.

When it comes to the top offenders, I always try to buy organic.  There is still a lot we don’t know about pesticides’ effects on human health.



  1. Quinn said on May 29th, 2009

    Hi Andy,

    When I go to a posting abroad I am often advised in places where there is a lot of soil contamination or poor food handling, to soak produce in a diluted bleach solution. Always seemed really extreme to me … I always wondered if those vegetable washes they sell would do the trick.

  2. Dave said on May 26th, 2010

    What DO we know about pesticides on human health. Has there been evidence of negative health consequences from non-organic produce?

  3. Andy Bellatti said on May 26th, 2010


    Not much. Unfortunately, the EPA only stepped in last year to require that pesticide manufacturers conduct toxicity tests on 60+ common pesticides. Mind you, this was after fish in streams contaminated with pesticide runoff began exhibiting bizarre symptoms (such as male fish bearing eggs!). The main damage there was to endocrine and reproductive systems.

    We also know that farmers and berry pickers who deal with pesticides have higher rates of cancers and other illnesses.

    For many individuals, buying organic is also a way to make an environmental/ecological/sustainability statement.

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