Fruit and vegetables available in the shops can contain considerable pesticide residues. In some cases levels of contamination are so high that harmful effects on health cannot be ruled out. To avoid pesticide-contaminated goods it is generally advisable to look for locally sourced fruit and vegetables in season, because plants grown in ideal environmental conditions are more vigorous and therefore need less chemical protection. Moreover, some of the products that travel long distances have to be protected against spoiling by use of more chemicals.
*Fruits advertised as “unwaxed” have merely not been treated with a protective coating. For preference, choose organic fruit if you want to consume the peel of oranges or lemons. In general, organically grown fruit and vegetables are mostly free from residues. For this reason, only organic products should be used in the preparation of infant food.
*Contamination with pesticides varies greatly with the season: Early strawberries on offer from January to May usually contain more pesticide residues than domestic strawberries harvested in season from June onwards.
*Always wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly under running water. Then rub with a microfiber cloth or vegetable brush, for example. This will only remove a small part of the pesticides – but it’s better than nothing.
*After handling the peel of citrus fruits, bananas and mangos, give your hands a quick wash. In this way you avoid transferring pesticides from the peel to your fingers, from your fingers to the fruit and from there to your mouth.
*Also: Don’t cut bananas with the peel left on – otherwise residues from the peel can get onto the flesh.
*Choose iceberg lettuce: Current research shows it to be less contaminated. But the amount of pesticide residues in food can also be reduced during preparation. Remove the outer leaves of lettuce – they contain the greatest amounts of residues.
*Since potatoes grow deep in the soil they are only slightly, if at all, contaminated with residues, despite the intensive use of pesticides. But if it says on your sack of potatoes that they were “treated after harvesting” you should always peel them before eating.
*Cooking helps: When vegetables are cooked, pesticide residues are also reduced. But to avoid destroying all the valuable nutrients vegetables should not be overcooked. Braise briefly, starting with a hot pan and then reducing the temperature to a low heat.