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How to eliminate pesticide residues in vegetables and fruits

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Modern agriculture has evolved along with the development of pesticides and fertilizers. When people pay more and more attention to health, pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables are increasingly causing people's worries. In fact, "pesticide" is a very broad concept. Some people regard all agricultural substances except fertilizers as "pesticide", while others only use "chemically synthesized" drugs for insecticide sterilization as "pesticide".
Pesticide residues in vegetables are an important issue in food safety. Especially in summer, it is not only the peak period of vegetable consumption, but also the active period of pests. In order to catch up with business opportunities, producers either use super-concentration pesticides to kill insects or harvest pesticides in advance, resulting in a large number of pesticide residues in vegetables exceeding the standard. According to statistics, under normal circumstances, the pass rate of pesticide residues in summer vegetables is more than 20% lower than that in winter.
Regardless of the broad or narrow concept, the types of pesticides grown in crops are extremely large. In the news media, there are often reports of "how many pesticides are detected on certain fruits and vegetables". Before discussing how to “remove” these pesticide residues, let us explain two common senses:
First, “detecting pesticide residues” is not the same as “harming health”. Any pesticide needs to reach a certain amount to cause harm. This “quantity that does not cause harm” is regulated by national standards. As a "toxic substance", the toxicity of the study is generally carried out on animals. Feed with different doses of pesticide (or other means to expose the animal) and find out the animal "does not show any abnormal maximum dose". In general, taking into account differences between humans and animals and the "different constitutions" between people, one-hundredth of this dose is used as a "safe dose" for humans. Then, according to the maximum amount of food people can eat every day, the "safety ceiling" in food is established. It can be said that based on the current scientific understanding of the pesticide, as long as the upper limit is not exceeded, it can be considered that there is no health risk. If new scientific data appears, which is "may be harmful" at lower doses, then the safety standards will be revised.
Second, "how many kinds of pesticides" are different from "harmful doses". Different pesticides are aimed at different pests or diseases, and the mechanism of action is generally different. Even if there are similar pesticides that will accumulate, it is still based on how "the amount of residue is", rather than whether it is harmful according to "how many kinds". That is to say, if the residual amount of each is lower than the national standard, the hazard can be neglected; if the residual amount exceeds the standard, then even if there is only one, it is still unqualified.
After all, pesticides have no value for the human body, and "safety data" is also speculated by experimental data. Therefore, we still hope to "reduce their existence as much as possible". It is the fundamental way to develop pesticides with lower toxicity and to regulate the use in production. For consumers, what methods can be used to remove “possible” pesticide residues for fruits and vegetables in their hands?
After all, pesticides have no value for the human body, and "safety data" is also speculated by experimental data. Therefore, we still hope to "reduce their existence as much as possible". It is the fundamental way to develop pesticides with lower toxicity and to regulate the use in production. For consumers, what methods can be used to remove “possible” pesticide residues for fruits and vegetables in their hands?
Since the pesticide is mainly attached to the surface of fruits and vegetables during the spraying process, as long as the effective washing and processing methods are adopted, the residual amount of the pesticide can be reduced, and the edible safety of the vegetables can be ensured.
The scientific community has done a lot of research on this. Various pesticide properties are different, and any removal method is for a certain characteristic. That is to say, for some pesticides, it may be invalid for others. To find a "universal" method that removes all pesticides, it is basically impossible.
In the 2010 issue of Food and Chemical Toxicity, a review of research on the removal of fruit and vegetable pesticides by Belgian scholars was published. They found that drowning, peeling, frying, and cleaning (and other treatments) are the most effective ways.
The frying can be removed by an average of 90% and the drowning is close to 80%. However, considering that most vegetables and fruits are not suitable for frying, and frying itself has high fat and high calories, as well as damage to other nutrients, it is not a good choice. The drowning, that is, put it in boiling water and boil it out, it is efficient and the damage to nutrients is relatively small, which is more feasible for many vegetables. Interestingly, if it is cooked for a long time, the removal efficiency of the pesticide will be significantly reduced. The results of this review are less than 20% on average. It may be that after a long period of heating, the vegetable cells are destroyed, and the pesticides in the water may enter the vegetables.
The effect of heating on pesticides may be more complicated than the digital display. For example, some pesticides will decompose at high temperatures, while the products that are broken down are somewhat non-toxic and some may be more toxic. It is undoubtedly a better solution to remove it by pre-cooking treatment without knowing it.
Cleaning is the most studied way. A department of the Connecticut State Government has conducted a relatively large-scale study on cleaning and pesticide residues. They selected 28 batches of lettuce, strawberries and other fruits and vegetables to detect changes in the levels of several common pesticides before and after washing. They used tap water, washing spirits and four specialized "fruit and vegetable cleansers". It was found that each method significantly reduced pesticide residues, but these specialized fruit and vegetable cleaners were no different from clear water. They also found that these pesticides are easily washed away and have little to do with their solubility, mainly due to mechanical movement during cleaning. Therefore, their advice is: rinse under running water for more than 30 seconds, accompanied by a wash.
Others like to soak fruits and vegetables with sour water, alkaline water or salt water. These methods are effective for certain fruits and vegetables and certain pesticides. For example, in a study, green peppers are washed with 2% saline for 10 minutes and can remove more than 80% of pesticide residues. However, if some vegetable epidermal cells are destroyed by these soaking solutions, the pesticides washed into the water may enter the vegetables, similar to the case of drowning and long cooking.
Cleaning the pesticide that removes the surface, but there is nothing to do with the penetration into the skin. In general, the infiltrated part is mainly distributed in the epidermis, so peeling is a very effective means. For example, potatoes, peeling can remove more than 70% of residual pesticides.
To sum up, the three axes of removing pesticides from fruits and vegetables are: washing, peeling, and cooking. If you are still worried, it will be helpful to diversify fruits and vegetables as much as possible. Different fruits and vegetables use different pesticides, and diversified choices can reduce the intake of each pesticide. Because these different pesticides do not necessarily cause cumulative hazards, it also helps to reduce the “risk in the event of existence”.