Avoid Pesticides by Canning and Pickling

June 11, 2015

Dateline: Klondike, Texas

by Tony Isaacs, Natural Health Journalist

If you have never canned or pickled before, this year is a great year to start and it is really easy to do. Not only will you save money, you will also eat healthier and safer produce. Thanks to the drought in Southern California, vegetable prices are expected to soar. Most of the U.S. grown fruit and vegetables contain dangerous pesticides, unless they are organic. To make matters worse, imported vegetables and fruit from Mexico and other countries often contain dangerous pesticides which have been banned in the United States. You can save money and avoid pesticides by canning and pickling “organically and home grown” produce.

Pesticides commonly found in vegetables and fruit

Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) singles out produce with the highest pesticide loads for its Dirty Dozen™ list. This year, the dirty dozen are: apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes.

The year’s key EWG findings:

*99 percent of apple samples, 98 percent of peaches, and 97 percent of nectarines tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
*The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce.
*A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.
*Single samples of cherry tomatoes, nectarines, peaches, imported snap peas and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides apiece.

In addition, although kale, collard greens and hot peppers did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen™ ranking criteria, they were frequently found to be contaminated with insecticides toxic to the human nervous system.

Nearly two-thirds of the 3,015 produce samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2013 contained pesticide residues. EWG calculates that the USDA found a total 165 different pesticides on thousands of fruit and vegetables in 2013 tests.

In 2007 and 2008 tests, the USDA’s scientists detected 51 pesticides on kale and 41 on collard . Several of those pesticides — chlorpyrifos, famoxadone, oxydemeton, dieldrin, DDE and esfenvalerate — are highly toxic.

93% of Americans tested by the CDC had metabolites of the nuerotoxic insecticide chlorpyrifos in their urine. Chlorpyrifos is part of a family of pesticides known as organophosphates which have been linked to ADHD. Because of its risk to children, the pesticide is banned from home use.

The CDC also found that 99% of Americans tested positive for DDT degradants, even though DDT hasn’t been used in the U.S. since 1972. Women who were exposed to DDT as girls are 5 times more likely to develop breast cancer.

Many farmers may have changed their pesticide practices since 2008; however, chlorpyrifos and esfenvalerate are still permitted on leafy greens. Though banned years ago, the organochlorine pesticides DDE and dieldrin, as well as DDT persist in agricultural soils and still make their way onto leafy greens and other produce.

Much of our vegetables and fruit are imported from Mexico and our generic canned goods are likely to be imported from other countries. Mexico and other countries often use pesticides which have been banned in the U.S.

Once you have a canning kit, canning and pickling are easy to do. Here’s how:

1. Bring canner half-full with water to a boil; simmer. Meanwhile, place jars in a large stockpot with water to cover; bring to a boil, and simmer. Place bands and lids in a large saucepan with water to cover; bring to a boil, and simmer. Remove hot jars 1 at a time using jar lifter.

2. Pack vegetables or fruits into hot jars, filling to 1/2 inch from top. Place additional items called for by the chosen canning or pickling recipe into a pot with about 4 cups of water (or more or less per the recipe). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour over the vegetables or fruits in each jar, filling to 1/2 inch from top

3. Wipe jar rims; cover at once with metal lids, and screw on bands (snug but not too tight). Place jars in canning rack, and place in simmering water in canner. Add additional boiling water as needed to cover by 1 to 2 inches.

4. Bring water to a rolling boil; boil 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool jars in canner 5 minutes. Transfer jars to a cutting board; cool 12 to 24 hours. Test seals of jars by pressing center of each lid. If lids do not pop, jars are properly sealed. Store in a cool, dry, relatively dark place at room temperature for up to one year.