Are grape leaves safe to eat in soil that may have lead in it?
I’m growing grapes in what I believe is leaded soil. I haven’t yet tested, but nearby soil is leaded. I’m aware that the fruits are safe to eat if they are kept free of dirt, but I’m wondering if the leaves are safe to eat as well.
Viña Lindley, Food Systems & Home Horticulture Professional
The first thing to do is get the soil tested. If the amount of lead in the soil is at or below 300 ppm you can safely consume the grape leaves. The main cause for concern with leaded soil is consuming parts of the plants that grow below ground or come into direct contact with the soil. As you said, you would want to make sure you wash the leaves and that they are not in contact with contaminated soil. If the lead levels are above 400ppm you would want to avoid consuming any produce grown in that soil.
The standard soil test offered by the Maine soil testing lab screens for lead. You can pick up a test kit at your local Cooperative Extension office or request one be sent to you here.
For more information on growing safely in leaded soil this article from the University of Michigan is helpful.