Why You Should Always Wash Your Citrus Fruit With Bicarbonate of Soda

Toxic Pesticides And Their Impacts

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lemons

I’m a member of a Facebook group where people share recipes and products that are Ultra Processed Free – ultra processed ingredients aren’t great for your help if you eat a lot of them – so it’s worth paying attention to the ingredient list. Anyway, in the group someone took and shared a photo of lemons purchased in the UK – unwaxed lemons, which are better than the waxed lemons, you would think – and the label showed the PESTICIDES the lemons were treated with. (Also, the loose lemons are never organic or unwaxed! Did you notice that?)

I thought – ok, next time I’ll pay attention to this and will try to buy organic. Went to the supermarket (Waitrose) and picked up unwaxed lemons that aren’t organic in the lack of organic lemons. Now, I’m normally moderately fussed about organic produce. I absolutely prefer organic and I can afford it – but if it’s not available or out of budget, I’ll just buy regular produce. So picked up the unwaxed lemons and to my shock, I found the label saying that, they have been treated with 3 different pesticides.

lemons pesticide

What are the pesticides most often used?

The lemons in question were treated with the following chemicals:

  • Imazalil
  • Thiabendazole
  • Pyrimethanil

Let’s see them one by one.

Imazalil

In a 2023 report, EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, found that, imazalil was one of two most often found hormone-disrupting fungicides found during tests commissioned by EWG in 2020 on nearly 90% of non-organic citrus fruit samples.

Introduced 1983, enilconazole (synonyms imazalil, chloramizole) is as an anti-fungal post-harvest agent, it’s used to prevent the fruit going off too quickly, since it’s often being shipped from far away countries.

It is not banned in the EU and UK, but it is heavily regulated.

Although imazalil is toxic if indigested, maximum residue standards were reduced in the EU in 2018 to limit risks (here) and the UK adopted the same standards in 2021.

However, imazalil can disrupt hormones, or endocrine system, which regulates metabolism, growth and development, and other important functions. They can also harm the reproductive system, and California classifies imazalil as a chemical known to cause cancer.

Thiabendazole

The other most commonly found hormone-disrupting fungicide, mentioned above. 

First approved in the 1960’s Also a preservative, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic agent. It prevents mould and blight specifically – which is why they treat fruit that travels from the other half of the world with it.

It is still approved in the UK and EU.

It may cause gastrointestinal, nervous system, hypersensitivity, hepatic, ocular, and other side effects.

Both Imazalil and Thiabendazole are pretty much toxic to wildlife.

Both of them found 20 times the amount EWG scientists recommend – during the sampling tests in 2020 – as a limit to protect children against increased risk of cancer.

Pyrimethanil

Pyrimethanil is a broad spectrum fungicide, that targets fungal pathogens such as grey mould and powder mildew.

It is approved in the EU and UK.

Toxic to aquatic life and insects as well as some mammals, and it’s is difficult to degrade naturally.

Pyrimethanil have endocrine-disrupting effects and long-term exposure may cause or deterioration of neurological diseases (it gained attention for the role in Alzheimer’s disease).

Should we worry about them?

According to science and regulations – no. But like, EWG stated: they found them above the safety level, so they are a problem. Best to do? Avoid them as much as possible.

soda bicarbonate

How to eliminate them?

Well, SODA BICARBONATE walks in – welcome to the conversation again!

You can clean the fruit and vegetables treated with pesticides with bicarbonate of soda – and it does a better job at that, than anything else. And here’s the science behind it: although the University of Massachusettes tested it on apples – the same thing will happen with the skin of other fruit and vegetables. It took 12 to 15 minutes in the soda bicarbonate solution to completely get rid of the pesticides used in this study. (Note: not the same ones as these – but similar.)

lemons

lemons

How to clean fruit and veggies with soda bicarbonate?

Step 1:

Fill a bowl ⅔ full with water and mix in 1 teaspoon (6 g) of baking soda per 450ml (or two American cups) of water.

Step 2:

Add in the produce and let them sit for 12 to 15 minutes. Stir them around every few minutes. I tend to grab a scrubber and gently scrub the skin if it’s citrus and other produce with fairly hard skin.

Step 3:

Take the produce out of the solution after 15 minutes and rinse them.

Step 4:

Let them air dry.

This simple way will help you to keep your fruit and veg as safe as you can!

Check out my other bicarbonate of soda hacks:

Citrus Infused Multipurpose Vinegar Cleaner Recipe

White Clay Christmas Decorations With Just 2 Cupboard Ingredients

3 Ingredient Home Made Toilet Bombs

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