Friday, April 22, 2011

Dirty Talk - Pesticides and Produce

Recently World News with Diane Sawyer did a report on the effects of pesticides in children under the age of 7. Children exposed to common pesticides, even in the womb, showed a dramatic reduction in IQ. It’s reports like these that scream, “Wake Up!”

We are always looking for some single answer to troubling medical conditions like cancer, autism, autoimmune diseases, and more. I don’t think you can single out one culprit. We’re poisoning ourselves at every turn from our GMO foods of declining nutrition, to the pesticides that make everything pretty and bug free, to the cleaning products in our homes, to the chemicals in our household furniture and d├ęcor…not to mention loading processed food with transfats, sugars, dyes, preservatives and stabilizers! It’s simply crazy. And we wonder why our children get sick?

Well, that turned into quite a rant, didn’t it? The point is that we need to eliminate as many potential toxins from our environment/bodies/homes as we can. One way to reduce toxins is by eating organically.

Listen, I know that buying organic products can be expensive. I can’t afford to buy organics exclusively but, I encourage you to purchase what you can afford. Also, spend your money wisely by concentrating on foods that are most harmful. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has compiled a list of produce that contains the highest percentage of pollutants/pesticides called the “Dirty Dozen.

  • If you can only purchase a few organic fruits and vegetables, focus on buying organic versions of the produce listed on the “Dirty Dozen.
  • If you can’t afford organics, or your grocer doesn't carry them, stick to purchasing foods on the “Clean 15” list. The produce on the “Clean 15” list is lowest in pesticides according to EWG tests.

The owner of a produce distribution company once told me that he washed EVERY fruit and vegetable that he ate. Even if you don’t believe that pesticides are an issue, imagine how many people have touched your food before it gets to your table. Rinsing can remove some pesticides but you really should wash all your produce thoroughly. You can use special pesticide removing cleaners or mild soap and water. Peeling your produce can remove pesticides but you lose some nutrition in the process so, you are better off washing.

‘Dirty Dozen'
1. Celery
2. Peaches
3. Strawberries
4. Apples
5. Blueberries
6. Nectarines
7. Bell peppers
8. Spinach
9. Cherries
10. Kale/Collard greens
11. Potatoes
12. Grapes (imported)

'Clean 15'
1. Onions
2. Avocado
3. Sweet corn
4. Pineapple
5. Mangoes
6. Sweet peas
7. Asparagus
8. Kiwi
9. Cabbage
10. Eggplant
11. Cantaloupe
12. Watermelon
13. Grapefruit
14. Sweet potato
15. Honeydew melon

The Environmental Working Group has a complete list of fruits and vegetables tested at its website. You can also download a pdf or iphone app of the guide.

How do you feel about organic vs. conventional foods? What percentage of the food you purchase is organic? Are there organic items that you are more likely to look for?

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