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Can chemicals be washed off your produce? By Maria Rodale

Posted Thu Oct 21, 2010 4:38pm PDT
I often get asked if you need to buy those produce washes to clean off your fruits and veggies, especially if they are not organic. My gut instinct has told me two things: One, a little bit of soap and water works just as well, and doesn't cost much. And two, I have always suspected that you can't really wash those chemicals off. It's both good and bad to know, now, that I was right.

A recent study of soy beans reported in Beyond Pesticides Daily News Blog, done by the University of Toledo, shows that the chemical triclosan -- a pesticide used in antibacterial products; remember, I have said never to use them! -- actually runs off into water and the waste materials that are used to treat the crops (if they're not grown with organic methods). The triclosan is taken up in all parts of the plant, including the bean. So, the chemical is INSIDE the plant and can't ever be washed off.

How many times do I have to tell y'all to eat organic?

What's actually most frightening, though, is that once the water is contaminated with our chemical waste, even organic farmers will have a hard time keeping their plants clean and pure. There is only one solution: Stop buying chemical food and stop using chemicals in your life.

In an ironic twist, a new update from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that rich people apparently have the highest levels of triclosan in their blood, and adults have more than children. Why? Probably because rich people can afford all those antibacterial products that contain triclosan, and are often obsessed with hygiene. (At least, the adults are -- you know how hard it is to get a kid to wash his or her hands!)

Remember, those antibacterial products kill both the good and the bad bacteria, and we need bacteria to live. Killing the good guys make the bad guys even badder.

So, here is my advice:

Don't ever buy a product that says antibacterial on the label (unless it's vinegar, or something natural and nontoxic like that).

Always buy organic food!

Always wash your fruits and vegetables before you eat them -- just plain water works best.

Always wash your hands and your kids' hands with just plain soap and water.

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