Here’s another reason to wash your produce: According to the National Library of Medicine, multiple studies found that prolonged exposure to glyphosate—the most widely used herbicide—can have toxic effects on the nervous system, damage organs, compromise reproduction and increase overall inflammation. It has also been linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other types of cancer.
Even more concerning, glyphosate—the main active ingredient in the controversial weedkiller Roundup—is now found in soil, water, air and even in humans worldwide.
“Until the development of Roundup Ready seed in the ’90s, the chemical was not widely adopted by commercial agriculture,” explains Jake Paraskiewicz, a plant care specialist at Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin. “Roundup was quickly adopted by commercial ag, on a smaller scale, due to it being much less toxic than DDT.”
Although the United States Environmental Protection Agency maintains that there are no risks of concern to human health, holistic authorities and enthusiasts remain skeptical. Ashley Boyer, secretary of the Delaware Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (DAND), suggests reducing potential exposure by looking for Glyphosate Residue Free labels, buying organic whenever possible, reviewing a list of glyphosate-free products and avoiding use of weedkiller on produce. DAND also advises sticking to the “Clean 15,” or the fruits and vegetables grown with the fewest pesticides.
Although the “clean” list changes yearly, it includes mostly items with an outer peel, husk or shell that is removed prior to eating, like avocados and watermelon. For good measure, Boyer recommends first soaking produce for 15 minutes in 2 cups of water mixed with 1 teaspoon of baking soda.