The Weston A. Price Way

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Dirty Dozen & Clean 15, 2011: EZ Pesticide Reduction

One way to be sure it's pesticide-free?
Grow your own!
This is "Joi choy".
You don't really mind if I go a bit out of the box today, do you? I know I have been reserving Tuesday for book reviews, and there is one I am reviewing now to share with you...but today, I'd really like to pass on some information you most likely will need right now, before diving into U-Pick Farms and the delectable aisles of spring and summer produce at the grocery store.

I have good news, bad news, and great news. I'll start with the great news: You don't always have to buy organic to be pesticide-safe. Did I just hear your bank account breathe a sigh of relief?

We have all lived with pesticides for so long that some roll their eyes as if to say, "Not THAT subject again!" But the truth is, pesticides have become stronger due to resistant pests and some of the foods we eat are even genetically modified, using pesticides, in greater and greater amounts for the same reason. (America's two greatest crops that are genetically modified are soybeans and corn.) We will tackle the extensive subject of GMO's at a later date, but if you're curious, check out the "Fresh, Inc." tab at the top of this page. Then, get the video and watch it. This documentary has been described as 'dark' because the information held within is not totally happy information. I would prefer to describe it as 'light' because of the revelation knowledge it shares regarding American food sources. It is valuable information that will spur the most reluctant among us into action, even if only within our own household.

We have people working for consumer safety and the Environmental Working Group is one of our strongest advocates. For eight years, the EWG gathered information from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, (nearly 89,000 tests), pertaining to pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables. Their full list of 49 fruits and vegetables tested, as well as further details, can be found here.

Don't be lured into a sense of false security by the word 'residue'. Just because it's residual doesn't mean it's not dangerous. Today's scientists agree that infants, children, and fetuses are especially harmed by pesticide/chemical  residue. The damage can be permanent. Therefore, they advise we downsize pesticide consumption. I'm good with that. How about you?

Unfortunately, as innocents push to fortify health via the route of five fruits and veggies each day, they may be consuming more harm than good. The EWG has determined that if this consumption comes from the foods on the "Dirty Dozen" (most contaminated), list, we are including on average, 10 pesticides each day. Everything on the "Dirty Dozen" list tested positively for at least 47 chemicals, and at most 67 chemicals. Some have dubbed eating non-organic foods from this list as consuming a 'chemical cocktail'. Good analogy. However, if we consume foods, (they don't have to be organic), from the "Clean Fifteen" (least contaminated) list, we eat less than 2 pesticides each day, or reduce pesticide intake over the chemically charged varieties by up to 80 percent.

You may be, as I am, using a special rinse for your veggies, and that's not bad. But unfortunately, rinsing doesn't get rid of all the pesticides. Many of us already realize that pesticides reside mostly on the skins of our fruits and veggies, and so we peel what we can to eliminate that problem. Unfortunately, as we skim the skin, we skim nutrient-density as well, and finances spent on feeding our family well land in the trash along with our peelings. (The information gathered by the EWG was gathered from produce after it was either washed, rinsed or peeled.)

If you can't buy organic, but must have that food on the 'dirty' list, then by all means, wash, rinse or peel it in order to reduce pesticide intake. Every little thing we do helps our health. Because organics cost more, downsize the price by buying in season and locally. You'll help your budget and the local economy.

The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen Lists for 2011 
  1. Celery
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Domestic blueberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Sweet bell peppers
  8. Spinach, kale and collard greens
  9. Cherries
  10. Potatoes
  11. Imported grapes
  12. Lettuce
The Clean Fifteen
  1. Onions
  2. Avocados
  3. Sweet corn
  4. Pineapples
  5. Mango
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Kiwi fruit
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplant
  11. Cantaloupe
  12. Watermelon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Sweet potatoes
  15. Sweet onions
Copy or print the list and carry it in your wallet for easy grocery reference.

It's the time of year when we love to go to U-pick farms. A word of caution. Ask before you pick. Unfortunately, berries are defenseless when it comes to pesticides. To my current knowledge, Cullipher Farm in Pungo, VA is the only Virginia strawberry-picking farm offering pesticide-free strawberries. That doesn't mean other farms in VA are all laced with pesticides, however. ASK. 

There is a growing resistance among small farmers in regard to being 'certified organic'. These farmers have opted out of government certification for organically produced foods, not because they are non-organic, (most have higher standards than the government when it comes to pure food), but because the process of becoming certified organic through our government is lengthy, costly (and that cost is passed on to the consumer), and the government regulates so many of the ins and outs of their business. Farmers I know and have spoken with at length who have 'opted out' have open-farm policies, allowing anyone to visit and watch how they conduct business. They use compost teas for fertilization and organic means of pesticide riddance. They are innovative and passionate about cleaning up our food. They often use creative approaches that would be fraught with red-tape hassles if they had to wait for government approval. And none of those approaches bring harm to the consumer.

On the other hand, when seeking organics in the supermarket, the organic certification label is of prime importance.

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