by Kristeen Uzoh, Special to Grouptrails…
Once seen as an alternative, “hippie” lifestyle, organically grown foods have become mainstream. In an effort to reduce exposure to pesticides, many families (especially those with pregnant women, young children or people with weakened immune systems) are choosing to go the organic route. But the truth is, that while organic food is healthier, it is also slightly more costly.
So how do you reap the benefits of cleaner food without breaking the bank? You could use a fruit & vegetable cleaner, which helps remove pesticides. You could also be selective about WHAT you buy organic. Some foods are more resistant to pesticides, so conventionally grown is appropriate. But other foods are virtual cauldrons of chemicals and should avoided completely and replaced with their organic counterparts.
How Do I Know Which Ones?
The general rule on fruit is: those that have thick and/or inedible skins are safer, as the majority of the toxins remain in the skin which is then discarded.
- Citrus Fruits
When considering vegetables, choose ones that are naturally resistant to pests, thereby requiring less pesticides to begin with.
- Sweet Potatoes
What Should Be Avoided?
Watchdog organization The Environmental Working Group releases a report each year of the most pesticide –ridden fruits and veggies. Known as “The Dirty Dozen” (thedailygreen.com) , this list changes from year to year and is meant only as a guideline, as conditions vary from farm to farm, year to year. Their findings are based on analysis of the Department of Agriculture’s data on pesticides. Remember, however, that the government sets what it deems “allowable pesticide limits”; all food grown commercially in the United States has SOME pesticide used on it. But according to The Environmental Working Group, if you avoid conventionally grown versions of the following, you can reduce your exposure by as much as 80%:
- Nectarines (Imported)
- Grapes (Imported)-and yes, this also means raisins and wine
- Sweet Bell Peppers
With all the options in the grocery store these days, it can be hard to know what to choose. We all want to feed our families and ourselves the best, cleanest foods possible, and while that can get costly, if we inform ourselves, we can find the happy medium.