Such is the unfortunate case with many of the shiny, colorful fruits and vegetables we choose at the grocery store in an effort to eat healthy – they are riddled with pesticides to prolong shelf life and keep insects from ruining their appearance. While no one wants to bite into an apple and eat half of a worm with it, nor find a six-legged family living in their head of lettuce, the side effects of heavy pesticide exposure are even more serious.
According to livestrong.com, these toxic chemicals can cause learning disabilities, negatively affect the nervous system, weaken the immune system and may even be linked to breast cancer. Fortunately there are a few simple steps you can take to greatly reduce your exposure to pesticides and therefore decrease your risk of suffering from negative side effects.
1. Buy Organic
Some fruits and vegetables already have very low pesticide content and are safe to buy in the normal produce section, such as those included in the Clean 15. But many staples in our diets are members of the Dirty Dozen, the twelve types of produce with the highest pesticide content, and should only be eaten in organic form to reduce pesticide ingestion.
2. Grow Your Own
If buying organic seems difficult and expensive, why not cultivate your own produce? Not only does gardening provide a fun hobby and even exercise, it assures you that there are no pesticides in your food because you grew it yourself. TLC has a great list of 66 different fruits and veggies you can grow at, or even in, your own home.
3. Eliminate Pests Without Using Pesticide
Chemicals are a convenient way to keep unwanted guests out of your home and garden and food, but you may be sacrificing your health in using them. Taking natural measures to keep your home clean and bug-free, such as following this helpful guide from grist.org, will help keep your home free of pests and pesticides.
4. Detoxify Your Diet
In addition to avoiding pesticides in your diet and your methods of pest control, you can counteract pesticides you may unknowingly ingest by eating foods that act as natural detoxifiers. Make sure you still purchase these items organic if they are part of the Dirty Dozen.
5. No Shoes In the House
Incorporating all of these safety measures into your lifestyle will greatly reduce your risk of exposure to harmful pesticides, but you can only control so much. You may not use pesticides and harmful chemicals on your lawn and garden, but anywhere else you go you can’t be sure what you’re stepping in. Having a no-shoe rule in the house keeps toxic chemicals from being tracked in to your home and cultivates a cleaner, safer living space. This is especially important if you have small children or pets that crawl on (or eat things off of) the floor.