The Dirty Dozen.
Our health and that of our children is priority for most of us.
Fruits and veggies are an essential part of a well-rounded diet. In all honesty, it’s hard for me to get my veggies in but, when I do, I choose to buy organic. Especially for my girls. Though pricey at times, I think that the benefits far outweigh the cost. If you are looking to go organic for your family, here are a few tips of what to look out for and what to steer clear from.
Ever heard of “dirty” foods or foods more popularly known as “The Dirty Dozen”? You can find them in a list compiled of the dirtiest fruits and vegetables on the market to avoid. You know that the list contains big offenders, some may be a surprise too. If you don’t know about the list, this is the list compiled from 2010’s crop.
It is estimated that you can avoid 80% of pesticides if you choose to go organic. Unfortunately, with all the chemicals companies are using on our produce, it’s getting more and more difficult to wash them off when they reach our kitchen. When crops are certified organic, this prohibits the company of pesticide use in their crops. Though it can be argued that the prohibitions can be a bit lax. This year, celery, spinach and blueberries have made the top of the list as the biggest offenders.
According to the Environmental Working Group, the following fruits and veggies are on the “Most Wanted” list to avoid:
1. Celery- Since celery has no skin or layers, it is hard to wash off any residue. Approximately 64 pesticides are found in it and almost 100% of the time they are present. This is definitely one to buy organic, especially when you are feeding your little ones finger foods. Safer alternatives are broccoli or onions!
2. Strawberries- 59 pesticides have been found in strawberries. Especially when they are out of season, this means that they have to be imported. Which means governments that have less stringent rules about pesticide use are importing their pesticide-filled berries to your supermarket. If you can’t get them organic, you’re better off getting kiwis! I sometimes, if not always, opt for getting frozen strawberries. They are frozen at their peak thus containing more nutrients and less pesticides have been found in the frozen form.
3. Apples- Apples have always made the list. The problem with this fruit is that apart from being found in the actual fruit, traces have been found in apple juice and apple sauce. All which you should buy organic if you can. Apples have about 42 pesticides and some recommend peeling the apple to avoid chemical residue. Though keep in mind that if you do, you are also peeling away a lot of nutrients. Safer alternatives include bananas or watermelon!
4. Peaches- About 62 pesticides have been found in peaches. Surprisingly, less pesticides have been found in canned peaches. Though I avoid canned foods like the plague due to BPA linings. But, that is another story in itself. Better to steer clear from peaches if they aren’t organic or opt for watermelon, oranges or tangerines.
5. Spinach- New on the list for 2010 crop, it’s actually one of the most contaminated leafy green veggies on the market. Which is unfortunate because it is one of the most nutrient rich veggies too. Again, the canned version has less traces of pesticides in comparison to the fresh version which carries over 48 pesticides.
6. Nectarines- If you can’t find organic nectarines, opt for pineapple, mango or papayas. You’ll be skipping 33 pesticides while you’re at it. Unfortunately, importing makes this tree fruit one of the highest contaminated.
7. Grapes- Imported ones in fact, have about 34 different pesticides. So, it is better to buy these local. There are many local vineyards you can visit. Even if you peel them, it doesn’t do much considering the skin is so thin. Traces have been found in wine as well, so if you can’t find them organic–get it! Also, try raspberries or kiwis as a safer alternative.
8. Potatoes- This is one of the most widely used veggies. Which isn’t a surprise considering it’s versatility. Non-organic potatoes have about 37 pesticides, which is definitely something to avoid. Better finger foods for you and your little one? Baked sweet potato fries!
9. Blueberries- They are a new offender on the list but, are the most contaminated berry. With about 52 pesticides, it’s better to top your oatmeal with bananas. Especially if you can’t find organic. Frozen blueberries have smaller traces of contamination, though organic blueberries would be best due to their antioxidants. My kids love these and eat them as a snack all the time, so organic all the way!
10. Sweet Bell Peppers- 49 different pesticides have been found in all colors of bell peppers, this is a regular on the list and if you can’t buy organic, skip it! Better alternatives are cabbage and green peas!
11. Lettuce- Though having an asparagus salad isn’t very appetizing to most, it’s a better alternative considering that non-organic lettuce carries 51 pesticides. This is another regular on the list, buy organic if you can or stock up on asparagus!
12. Kale- This is known as a super food, rarely has pests or disease– yet it’s scored very high in the last 2 years. If you can’t find organic opt for cabbage, asparagus and dandelion greens! Another contender to kale is collard greens that carry about 46 pesticides! Opt for Brussels sprouts instead!
Now that we know which foods to look out for, here are some fruits and veggies that are on the EWG’s safe list!
(In which, you can also buy organic.)
- Sweet Potatoes
- Sweet Peas
- Sweet Corn
- Kiwi Fruit
- Domestic Cantaloupe
So, get your fruit and veggie on!
Summer is pretty much here and it’s a perfect time to take advantage of your local produce. Or a great time to take a day trip to a local orchard and farm to get your favorites! Also, during the spring and summer months, your local Farmer’s Market should be up and running! Notice the key word is local? Not only are you avoiding unnecessary pesticides but, you are helping your local economy and farmers and you are reducing fossil fuel consumption. Know what’s in your food and what you are consuming, it’s an important part of your health!
Do you guys take advantage of your local produce? Do you buy organic or do you think it’s too much of a cost issue to do so?
Let me know, til then, cheers m’deres!
Nancy Polanco is a freelance journalist, lifestyle content creator, and editor of Whispered Inspirations. She is a proud Mom to Gabby and Michaela and partner and best friend to Darasak. Having worked as part of a health care team for almost a decade, Nancy is happy to be back to her passion. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TODAY’s Parents, and an Oprah Magazine Brand Ambassador.