Though vegetables, fruits and berries are staples for a healthy diet, some can contain a hidden hazard – pesticides used by the growers. One way to avoid these toxic chemicals is to buy certified organic produce – produce that is grown without the use of pesticides. However, this can be a financial difficulty for some because organically grown produce is usually more expensive.
So how can you avoid pesticides and avoid bankrupting your food budget? The Environmental Working Group publishes a list every year of the produce most likely to contain toxic pesticides, and of the produce lowest in pesticides. A money saving option is to buy produce on the “Dirty Dozen” list from an organic market or from the organic section of your local grocery store, and buy your other produce from the regular section. Better yet, if you have the option, grow your own garden where you can know for sure that pesticides aren’t used. I started gardening again this year due to pesticides and food costs, and am looking forward to harvesting my first veggies!
Wherever you buy or grow your produce, remember to wash all of it before eating. There are vegetable ‘cleaners’ available in stores, but some of them are simply vinegar and water in an expensive package! You can make your own 50:50 mixture of white vinegar and water at home in a spray bottle and save yourself the cash! The acetic acid in vinegar kills bacteria and helps dissolve the wax and pesticide residues found on the skins of many fruits and vegetables. To clean hard-skinned produce (like apples), spray the mixture on, scrub a little with a vegetable brush, and rinse. For soft-skinned produce (like grapes), soak in a bowl of the solution for a couple of minutes and then rinse.
Here is a list of the EWG’s Dirty Dozen (actually 14 this year) and Clean 15 for 2012:
Dirty Dozen (in order of residue)
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Nectarines, imported
- Blueberries, domestic
- Kale/Collard Greens
- Green Beans
Clean Fifteen (lowest in pesticides)
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet peas
- Cantaloupe, domestic
- Sweet potatoes
These are simple and easy steps you can take to get the benefits from your fruits, berries and veggies, but limit your exposure to toxic pesticides. I love summertime because we have so much wonderful produce grown and available locally. Do you have any favorite ways to eat fresh local summer produce? If so, we’d love for you to share below!
To your health,