I have a friend with a pesticide allergy. If she eats conventionally grown apples (or any other fresh produce), she gets all red and swollen and itchy. At times it's so bad that she needs to seek medical attention.
"Buy organic fruit" I told her. Her eyes got really wide and she looked insulted. "Organic food is too expensive! Why would I pay $5.00 for 3 apples when I can get a whole bag for less?" she questioned. I just stared at her in amazement. "Well, how much does taking care of this reaction cost you?" She could easily buy organic produce if she'd just cut back on the beautification dollars. It's not just her, we're all like that. We don't consider what we put in our bodies to be as big a priority as make-up, hair products and clothes, because make-up makes us look pretty and all that crap.
The more I think about my friend the more I see the other not-so-obvious ways this pesky little pesticide allergy effects her. She's been trying to lose weight ever since I've known her, but I only see her eating bad food, yet she says she loves fresh fruit (she brags about loving it because I don't). I just realized that she can't eat fresh fruit or vegetables because of her allergy to pesticide and her unwillingness to by organic. I recommended that she try Trader Joe's and farmer's markets and Community Supported Agriculture shares for less expensive organic produce and I also turned her on to fruit and vegetable wash, which I've decided to start using myself after all this.
We have slowly been increasing the percentage of our food that we buy organic but by no means is all our produce organic. She's right - it is more expensive and hard to justify financially. But my friend's red swollen face has got me wondering more about how these pesticides effect me and my family. Even if these washes do successfully remove the obvious pesticide residue, what does the pesticide that permeates the membrane of the produce do to the food itself, and then our bodies after we eat it? I don't believe for one second that those chemicals remain on the outside skin (remember about permeable cell membranes and all that crap from basic science?) And I also don't believe that, even though I don't get all red and swollen from conventionally grown fruit, nothing's going on inside my body as a result of these pesticides.
I talked to my guy during my pesticide freak-out and his first response when I told him about my friend's big red swollen face was "well does she not wash her apples off before she eats them?" I don't know this for sure but, as a gardener who has battled pests myself, I'd bet that most of the pesticides used on large farms are water-proof. I say this because I know that my organic pest control concoctions need to be reapplied after it rains and that's a real pain - I'm sure that the chemical companies make sure that their stuff won't wash off so easily. That's probably why running your apple under the water from the sink probably isn't that helpful.
From now on, I'll be using the fruit and vegetable wash and I hope to graduate to exclusively buying organic someday. Of course, growing some of my own produce helps. I suggested this to my friend, too. "Gardening is so not me" she snarked.