• Miriam Rose

Why (and how) to start washing your veggies

Updated: Feb 24, 2019

Being busy has become a bit of a curse in our current society, more than ever we have an endless list of things to do - especially when you add taking care of kids to the mix. After running around after your kids all day or rushing from your job to do school pick-ups, sport drop offs and trying not to lose the plot, the last thing you're thinking about is washing your veggies before you add them into dinner. But by saving a few minutes on washing our veggies, we're actually unknowingly letting harmful substances into our meal.

Every day our bodies are exposed to toxins, whether it be in the air we breathe, the food we eat or what we touch. Our bodies are constantly trying to filter out all the nasties that we don’t want circulating through our blood stream.

Some of these nasties include resides left on your fruit and veggies from agricultural processes. These include herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and pesticides. Not all are bad! For example, you could have an effective natural and organic insecticide, such as neem oil, an oil extracted from the seeds of the neem tree. Even garlic can be used in a spray as an insecticide. The residues on fruit and veggies are only bad for us when they are synthetic compounds that can interfere with our own normal biological functioning in a negative way.

The good news is it's relatively easy to reduce our exposure to toxins and reduce how much we take into our bodies. Washing your veggies only takes a few minutes but makes a world of difference to the health of you and your family.

What is actually on your veggies? (And why start washing them)

One of the most common herbicides used in agriculture today is called glyphosate (also known as “round up”). It works by stopping a specific chemical pathway in plants and some micro-organisms to kill them off. The insecticide Bifenthrin is another common substance used and was found on almost a third of our food in 2018. This insecticide works by acting on the nervous system of insects to kill them.

So what's so wrong with eating this stuff if we don't feel any negative effect? While it might seem like it's having no impact on you, research shows that these herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and pesticides are actually hurting us. Research done in 2018 showed that the greater a person’s intake is of pesticide residues, the greater the risk of fertility issues they will have. This wasn't just shown in women but in men too.

The commonly used herbicide Glyphosate in particular has some dangerous properties, with some research suggesting that is has carcinogenic potential - meaning it may cause cancer. This is also a possible effect of the other toxin I mentioned, the insecticide Bifenthrin. Glyphosate can also seriously influence our gut microbiome. Our gut microbiome not only helps control digestion, but can modulating our immune system and produce essential vitamins required for our daily functioning. This may be the reason why connections have even been shown between increased consumption of Glyphosate and behavioural illnesses such as depression and anxiety, as changes in the gut microbiome have a significant impact on mood also.

As well as these two common agricultural substances, there is heaps of recent evidence that shows there is a strong association between pesticide exposure and chronic diseases, genetic changes, cognitive diseases and endocrine diseases.

I've only mentioned 2 substances, but there are a whole lot more used in agricultural practices that can have negative effects on us. Recently, over 20 different toxins were found in one sample of strawberries - imagine the impact all of these are having on your body! With all this in mind, below I have included a simple 3-step procedure outlining the best way to wash your veggies. A recent study has shown that using baking soda gives you the best chance of removing unwanted nasties from your fresh produce!

How to wash your veggies

1. Fill a large bowl with water and a teaspoon of bicarb soda.

2. Submerge and soak the veggies for 2-5 minutes in the baking soda.

3. Scrub them with a brush and rinsing off under running water.

NOTE: all of the info above applies to non-organic conventionally grown produce! If you're buying organic, biodynamic produce, there is no need to wash your veggies. In fact, it's beneficial to get a bit of dirt into your diet to help diversify your gut microbiome!

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