In conventional farming, we use different synthetic products against insects and increase yields. Weed herbicides, insecticides against unwanted insects and fungicides against fungi. All these peptides are found on and in plants. Foods, especially fruits and vegetables, therefore contain traces.
We tend to think that we find traces of pesticides only in fruits and vegetables, but it is mainly large crops such as grain corn and soybeans that demand the most. This is logical because they are the ones that occupy the largest area of cultivation, they are used primarily to feed livestock and are the basis of popular ingredients in processed foods.
Compared to the 1990s, more pesticides are now sold per crop area.
Their presence in the environment, including streams, is associated with a loss of biodiversity. For example, some insecticides, such as neonicotinoids, appear to be partly responsible for the decline of bees and drones.
In conclusion, yes, these products have an impact on our environment and the contamination seems to be increasing. But should we really be surprised that it’s poisons for plants, insects or fungi affect living organisms?
Are pesticides harmful to health?
1) Buy bio
Organic farming is often thought to mean “pesticide-free,” but that’s not true.
First, because our water, soil and air are contaminated with pesticides, even fruits and vegetables that are grown without any of these products may contain them. This is the reality of the 21st century, it must be done!
Then even organic farmers can use these agrochemicals. However, there are stricter limits on the quantities applied. Many pesticides used in conventional agriculture are prohibited.
Thus, even if they are not exempt, it is well demonstrated that organic products contain less pesticides than conventionally grown foods. Eating organic is a good way to reduce the amount of pesticides we eat.
It is sometimes more expensive to buy foods in an organic version. One way to save money is to look for lists of fruits and vegetables that contain the most pesticides and fruits and vegetables that contain the least amount of pesticides. They come from a report published annually by the Environmental Working Group and are based on data from the US government. We can therefore reserve our organic purchases for the most contaminated fruits and vegetables, which still allows us to significantly reduce our pesticide consumption. In an ideal world, the same tool would be available for Quebec, but this is unfortunately not the case right now.
2) Wash fruits and vegetables
Let’s agree on something: whether your fruits and vegetables are organic or not, it is important to clean them before eating them. Just imagine the number of people who may have fooled your tomatoes before they arrived at your house …
Cleaning these foods also helps to get rid of some of the pesticides. Pass them under tap water and rub them for a few seconds. That’s all.
There are fruit and vegetable cleaners on the market that are specifically sold for pesticide removal, but they are not really more effective than the technique above. Invest in a fruit and vegetable brush instead.
3) Remove the peel
Some of the pesticides are on the surface of the food. Peel your fruits and vegetables, where possible, to reduce the amount of these products.
“Yes, but it’s in the peel that we find all the nutrients! “
No. It’s not just in the peel that you find nutrients. On the other hand, it is true that by removing it, you deprive yourself of a certain part of these molecules beneficial to the health.
Nutrition is never black or white. As I explained a little earlier, anyway, the low levels of pesticides found on your food are probably not that dangerous. So it’s up to you to make a choice. On one side or the other, you will not die because you have eaten or not the peel of your apple …
4) Acheter local
A report published in 2016 by the MAPAQ mentions that fruits and vegetables produced in Quebec would contain less pesticides than those coming from elsewhere. In the analyzes carried out, about one out of three Quebec fruits or vegetables contained traces of pesticides compared to 71% for those imported.
Whether you decide to apply these things or not, the message you must remember about this is that you should not reduce your consumption of fruits and vegetables. Whether or not they contain pesticides, they are absolutely essential to health.
4 simple things to eat less pesticides: Source of the author and original article: /
References: Bérubé S. (2016, 16 September) Pesticides full of stalls. The Press.
Garcia J.G. et Teixeira P. Organic versus conventional food: a comparison regarding food safety. Food reviews International 2017;33(4):424-446
Gerbet T. (2015, October 22) “Monsanto is more powerful than the government,” says the Minister of Agriculture. CBC.
Lavallée B. (2015) Save the planet one bite at a time. La Presse editions
Pisa L.W., Amaral-Rogers V., Belzunces L.P. et coll. Effects of neonicotinoids and fipronil on non-target invertebrates. Environ Sci Pollut Res 2014
Smith-Spangler C., Brandeau M.L., Hunter G.E. et Bravata D.M. Are organic foods safer or healthier than conventional alternatives? Ann Intern Med 2012;157(5):348-366
Auditor General of Quebec. (2016) Report of the Auditor General of Québec to the National Assembly for 2016-2017. Chapter 3: Agricultural Pesticides.