Do you know that most pesticides are petroleum-based and they are called environmental estrogens? They have estrogen-like activities that either take up the estrogen receptors or block the estrogen receptors in our body, as a result, they not only affect our natural hormone balance but also cause estrogen dominance symptoms and hormone-related cancers, including breast cancers and ovarian cancers. There is also strong evidence that shows pesticides can lead to harmful neurological disorders, birth defects, and fetal deaths. Pesticides are just one source of pollutants that we are facing today, there are many other toxins that affect our food chains and damage our health such as heavy metals and drugs. In this article, we are going to focus on how to eat clean as much as possible.
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Bacteria and pathogens contaminate foods through many different mechanisms. Some foods are natural breeding grounds for disease-producing agents, while others are contaminated through contacts with dirty hands, kitchen tools, or improper preparation. Microbes are also possibly transferred from one food to another. Inadequate freezing or refrigeration often fails to prevent bacteria from growing, and insufficient heating cannot completely kill viruses and parasites. In some cases, fruits and vegetables are infected because they are grown inorganically with heavy use of chemical-based fertilizers or pesticides. Those chemicals leave a considerable amount of residue in the peel and other parts. Here are 9 of the most easily contaminated foods that many of us probably eat every day.
1. Meat :
Compared to any plant food, meat is contaminated with a higher level of pesticides. This may shock you. How could this happen? Many different chemical pesticides are fat-soluble, and therefore they can accumulate in animals’ body tissues especially the fatty parts. While every living organism carries bacteria (at least the naturally occurring ones), meats are also contaminated from animal feeds. In today’s intensive animal farming, animal feeds are often mixed with antibiotics, hormones, and drugs to keep the stock healthy and the meat more tasty. Those additives are potentially harmful to humans in the long run. Fish is easily contaminated as well. Ocean fish has a higher risk of heavy metal contamination, while freshwater fish are exposed to pesticides from contaminated habitats or water. The same thing applies to ground beef, where lethal strains of E. coli bacteria can thrive.
To make sure all the bacteria and pathogens are killed, you will need to defrost both fish and meat. Use re-sealable bags and put them in the fridge. You can also submerge them in cold water, but you must change the water every 30 minutes until you cook them. The heating process needs to be at least 160- 165 degree F depending on the type of the meat. Also, make sure you get an accurate reading from your thermometer. In the old days, people only checked the colors to see if meat was safe; when the meat turned brown, it was considered bacteria-free. The problem is that some meat can turn brown even when it is not fully cooked.
2. Dairy Products :
Dairy products also have a high risk of contamination from pesticides. There are two places where chemicals and pesticides can be easily found: meat and dairy products. In many commercial dairy products, including butter, milk, and cheese, residues of antibiotics and growth hormones are often found. Unpasteurized milk is possibly marketed as fresh or raw; but they are not safe to consume. Milk needs to be processed or sterilized before it becomes ready to drink or is used as an ingredient for other products.
3. Pears, Apples, and Grapes :
As it turns out, an apple a day does not necessarily keep the doctor away. Believe it or not, apple is one of the most heavily consumed fruits, and it is also heavily contaminated with pesticides. In an FDA test, a typical apple contains about thirty-six different neurotoxins, and 91 percent of all apples tested showed positive indications of pesticide residues. Once again, non-organic farming is usually suspected for such conditions. Peeling an apple reduces the risk indeed, but it does not eliminate the danger of ingesting the remaining chemicals. Pears are almost as contaminated with thirty-five different pesticides and 94 percent rate of contamination.
Similar to pears and apples, grapes are vulnerable to parasites and bugs. Grapes require a good amount of pesticides during multiple stages of growth to stay healthy. The fruits may survive the parasites, but a decent amount of residues from pesticides are accumulated in grapes.
4. Berries and Cherries :
Berries and cherries are heavily dosed with pesticides on average. Believe it or not, about 300 pounds of pesticides are applied to every acre of strawberries, compared to an average of 25 pounds per acre for other foods. Thirty-six different pesticides are commonly used on strawberries with 90 percent contamination. Tested cherries have about 25 pesticides and 91 percent contamination.
5.Grains and Beans :
Beans and grains thrive in the humid and warm environment. Unfortunately, this is also the ideal breeding grounds for Salmonella. Following the 2011 E. coli outbreak in Germany, people in the EU have been warned to avoid eating bean sprouts as well. If you have to eat them, you will need to cook them thoroughly first.
6. Potatoes :
In a report published by ABC News, potatoes caused more than 100 outbreaks between 1990 and 2006, resulting nearly 4,000 cases of illness. In many of those, potatoes were not the actual culprits, but they were simply vulnerable to cross-contamination from kitchen areas and other foods. Potatoes are often used with mayonnaise in salads, and this is where the problem begins. If left unrefrigerated for a period of time, the potatoes are likely contaminated with both Salmonella and bacteria Listeria. Potatoes are not actually expensive foods, so it is probably better to cook them at home rather than purchasing potatoes-contained foods anywhere else. This way, you will have a better control over every ingredient, and make sure everything is safe.
7. Spinach :
As discovered by FDA, spinach is most commonly contaminated compared to any other vegetables. About thirty-six chemical pesticides were found in 83 percent of all conventionally grown spinach that was tested. To make things worse, the contaminants were also among the most potent pesticides. To be safe, wash and dry spinach thoroughly before cooking. If you buy “ready to eat” or “triple-washed” spinach or any vegetables, you don’t need to rinse them again; those products are safe, and you risk exposing them to contaminants from contacts with kitchen utensils.
8. Coffee :
Many of us enjoy a good cup of coffee early in the morning to give our energy a boost, but do you know that little cup of coffee is also contaminated? Many of the best-flavored coffee beans are imported. It is worth mentioning that many countries grow coffee without strict regulations concerning the use chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Coffee is one of the best-selling commodities, but they actually use plenty of pesticides, some of which are dangerous that they are banned on American soil.
9. Peaches :
In many conventional orchards, a wide range of pesticides are applied to peaches and nectarines to prevent bugs and kill parasites. Peaches have a thin layer of skin, which makes an insufficient protection for the meat from direct exposure to pesticides. From all peaches and nectarines tested, more than 90 percent were contaminated with multiple chemicals.
Besides the food, you can also absorb those harmful chemicals through your skin. Your skin has the largest surface; this is the reason why you have to be careful about cosmetics and body lotions you use. Here is a list of most contaminated cosmetics.
Not everyone can afford to eat every single food that is organic. My suggestion is to go organic with the most contaminated foods and perform a sound cleaning procedure to reduce the harmful chemicals and pesticides as much as you can. Here are a few ways to reduces toxins from your fruits and vegetables through cleaning.
Salt water: According to the CSE, washing your fruits and vegetables with 2% of salt water will remove most of the contact pesticide residues on the surface of them. Cold water washing can remove almost 75 to 80 percent of pesticide residues. To enhance the result, it is a good idea to rub the skin of the produce if possible.
Vinegar sock: Prepare a solution of 10 percent white vinegar and 90 percent water and soak your veggies and fruits in them. Stir them around and rinse thoroughly. You have to be careful when washing fruits like raspberries and blackberries because they have a very thin skin.
Peeling: Discard the outer layers of leafy vegetables. Scrub and/or peel the skin of a produce if possible. Unfortunately, some nutrients can get lost through peeling.
Never use dish soap or other cleaning products that are not intended for food. Home-made solutions can be effective and save money.
After all, a plant-based diet is much healthier because it has less contamination compared to an animal based diet.
What are your smart ways to clean fruits and vegetables? Please share with us.
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“If we make it national policy that we will support small farmers the way we support agribusiness, we’ll suddenly see it change in terms of the cost of organic food.” ~ Ruth Reichl