• Donna Webb, RD, LD, CDE

Wash Away the Pesticides

Updated: Jul 31

As we are moving into fresh produce season, it’s always important to shop local. And the good news is we have a local farm just north of town (for those of us in the Springfield, Missouri area) where we can purchase lots of delicious, local produce. The Gradinariu family works this farm, and I had the pleasure of working with one of the family members.

Nely Gradinariu worked with me for several weeks in the fall of 2018 as she was preparing to become a dietitian. We were mutually blessed as we shared information and expanded our knowledge of food and nutrition. Thank you, Nely, for sharing your story and educating us on organic vs. non-organic foods, pesticides, and keeping the community safe. ~Donna

Nely’s Story in Her Own Words

I was born in Eastern Europe (in Romania), the third of 10 children. I was raised in southern California and have lived in Missouri since 2004. My family immigrated to the U.S. in 1990 because Romania was a Communist country at the time. For the first ten years we lived in Missouri, my family grew turkeys for Cargil. In 2013 we became the owners of Gardener's Orchard and Bakery in Brighton, Missouri.

Farm to Table Opportunity

Gardener's Orchard and Bakery was previously called Plaster's Orchard (for those who know the place). We expanded the orchard by planting a few hundred new apple trees and blueberry bushes. We have plans to expand even more. In fact the orchard provides a variety of apples and peaches during season.

The apple varieties we produce include Red Delicious, Gala, Golden Delicious, Sun Crisp, Fuji, Grimes Golden, Granny Smith, Early Blaze, Braeburn, Arkansas Black, Rome, Jonathan, and Cameo.

Our peach varieties include Redhaven, Cresthaven, Julyprince, Rubyprince, Harvester, Blazeprince, Loring, Contender, Augustprince, O'Henry, Sweet Sue, Big Red, Autumnprince, China Pearl, and Gala.

Inside the Bakery

In 2015 one of my younger sisters (Aurora) graduated from Ozarks Technical College with her Culinary Arts degree, and opened a bakery on the orchard in 2016. Aurora specializes in making breads, baked goods, including croissants, danishes, and turnovers. All with dough made from scratch using real butter and the least amounts of ingredients (no preservatives here!), and in season using our fresh produce in the baked goods.

Gardener's Orchard is a great place to visit if your looking for raw honey, herbs and spices, homemade apple or peach butter, jams, jellies, freshly pressed apple cider, fresh baked goods, and of course fresh produce.

Removing Pesticide Residue

The team at Gardener's Orchard works hard to provide high-quality produce. In doing so, we have to use some pesticides to protect the trees and fruit from worms, bugs, and fungus that could potentially destroy the whole crop. We are very careful to follow guidelines provided by the government and allow plenty of time for pesticides to die off before we wash the produce and sell them to customers. We encourage our customers to eat fruits and vegetables. They provide a great source of fiber, and a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals our body needs to reach optimal health.

But we also ensure we don't consume unnecessary chemicals. Experts state that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables far outweigh the risk of consuming pesticide residue, but with that said, I've compiled a list of home remedies to help you get rid of some of the pesticides residue remaining on fruits and vegetables (sourced from the article: The Dirty Dozen on Healthline.)

  • Scrub them in cold water. Rinsing fruit and vegetables in cold water while scrubbing them with a soft brush can remove some pesticide residues.

  • Use baking soda water. A study found that washing apples with a one-percent baking soda and water mixture was more effective in removing pesticide residues than tap water alone.

  • Peel fruits and vegetables. Removing the skin of fruits and vegetables can significantly reduce dietary intake of pesticide residues.

  • Blanch. In one study blanching produce (exposing it to boiling, then cold, water) led to a more than 50% reduction in pesticide residue levels in all vegetable and fruit samples except peaches.

  • Boil. A study found that boiling strawberries significantly decreased pesticide residues with reductions of 42.8–92.9%.

  • Rinse produce with ozonated water. Ozonated water has been found to be particularly effective in removing pesticide residues from food.

Using any of these practices can significantly reduce pesticide residues on fresh produce.

I hope you find these tips are useful. If you are in the Springfield, Missouri, area and are looking for an alternative place to buy fresh produce (and have a fun time doing it), Gardener's Orchard and Bakery provides farm tours and a great place to picnic with the family. Follow us on Facebook for updates on what produce is ready for you to pick and which farmer's markets we attend. To see a video of the farm, watch this segment that was produced by KOLR 10 News earlier this year.


2460 E. Madrid St.

Springfield, MO 65804

(417) 814–4040


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