Hesperian Health Guides

Pesticides on Food

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HealthWiki > A Community Guide to Environmental Health > Chapter 14: Pesticides Are Poison > Pesticides on Food

A woman peels food with a knife.
Foods that have waxy skins, like cucumbers and apples, should be peeled before eating.

Fruits and vegetables grown using pesticides usually still have pesticides on them when we buy them. Meat, milk, and eggs are often contaminated with pesticides used in animal dips and sprays, or if livestock eat feed or grass that contains pesticides and other chemicals.

When people eat or drink small amounts of pesticides on their food day after day, poisons collect in their bodies over time. These small amounts can add up and cause long-term health problems.

Cabbage, other vegetables, and salt.
Do not eat the outer leaves of leafy greens like cabbage and lettuce, because these parts collect the most pesticides.

To clean off most of the pesticides, wash fruits and vegetables in soapy water (do not use detergents), in salt water (5 spoonfuls of salt to 1 liter of water), or in water with baking soda (2 teaspoons of baking soda in 1 liter of water), then rinse in fresh water.

Food grown without pesticides is much safer and healthier, both for the people who eat it and the people who grow it. Unfortunately, in many places it costs more and can be hard to get.