I love Seder, and I would never want to give up any of the traditional pieces of the meal, or any of the traditions my family shares. Luckily, I can make Seder less toxic without losing any of the components that I love, and you can too! A few simple changes will drastically reduce toxic chemicals on your table and in your home this Passover.
Charoset: Apples are a key ingredient in charoset; unfortunately, they’re also a member of the Dirty Dozen, a list of the most pesticide contaminated fruits and vegetables. Minimize toxic chemicals in this beloved dish by using organic apples. If your family uses raisens in their charoset, choose organic raisens as well: grapes are also on the Dirty Dozen list.
Wine and grape juice: Like I mentioned above, grapes are a member of the ominous Dirty Dozen, so it’s important to choose organic grapes, grape juice, and wine when possible. The Jew and the Carrot has recommendations on how to choose an organic Kosher wine for your Seder.
Washing the parsley and bitter herbs: The surface of fruits and veggies can be home to chemicals and pathogens, which is why it’s important to thoroughly wash all your Passover produce, like parsley, particularly if it’s not organic. Rub your fruits and veggies for 30 to 60 seconds under warm running water. Wash inedible peels, like the one on the horseradish; even though you discard the peel, cutting into the fruit or peeling the fruit can transfer chemicals into the fruits flesh through your knife. For edible peels, peeling non-organic fruits and vegetables is an easy way to avoid the chemicals that are absorbed into the peel.
Skip the cans: Buying canned broth for matzoh ball soup, or maybe canned gefilte fish? BPA, a pesky chemical that makes a cameo appearance in almost all canned goods, has been linked to cancer, heart disease, obesity, and a host of other health problems. Skip the cans this Passover! If you have time to make homemade broth, go for it! If not, that’s okay too---try jarred or boxed versions instead.
Rethink disposables: If you can lose the disposable silverware and plates, that’s great. If you can’t, what about losing one of them? Keep your disposable plates, but use regular silverware. Use the restaurant trick of keeping a bowl of hot water by the sink and dump used silverware in the bowl so it’s rinsed and ready for the dishwasher. Or add dishsoap to the water and give your soapy silverware a quick scrub and rinse when the party is over. Try bamboo or unbleached recycled paper products for dishes and napkins. Remember to make recycling obvious by clearly marking your recycling bin.
Lose the shoes: Lower your toxic chemical exposures by asking your guests to leave their shoes at the door. Lead-contaminated soil from the outside creates the majority of lead dust inside our homes. Leaving your shoes at the door can cut your lead dust levels by 60 percent, and also reduce your exposure to pesticides, dust mites, and more. Create a designated space for shoes by the door and make it obvious to your guests by putting up a sign, placing a mat in the space, or putting a few pairs of your own shoes there.