Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Dirty Dozen

So you've heard about eating organic foods right?

All those pesticides and other stuff are seriously cancelling out all the benefits of eating fresh produce.

But who has the money to eat an all organic diet, and let's be serious, what grocery store stocks everything you could ever want in organic form? And even if that grocery store did exist, what average person's budget can afford that anyway?

Unless you live on a farm or are a millionaire, an all organic diet is just not practical. However, there are still some ways that you can minimize the impact of conventional produce.

1. Peel it. If the fruit or vegetable has an edible skin, such as an apple or cucumber, peel off the skin!

2. Wash it. Though washing will not remove pesticides that are deep inside the fruit and vegetables, most of the pesticides are sitting on the outside anyway. Rinsing them in water doesn't count (I am sooo guilty of this).

Use your normal dish detergent. Soak 'em in a tub of soap and cool water for about 30 minutes, give them a little scrub and rub, and then rinse. It's easiest to give everything a bath after grocery shopping.

Spray your produce with vinegar. Spray white or cider vinegar, then wipe off. Some sources say to spray 3% hydrogen peroxide after the vinegar. Vinegar can also be used to clean kitchen counters, sinks and cutting boards.

Salt + Lemon. In a cool tub of water, add 4tbs salt and the juice of half a lemon and soak five to ten minutes (leafy greens two to three minutes and berries one to two minutes).


3. Buy the dirty dozen, only, organic. The dirty dozen are the fruits and vegetables found to be most contaminated. They are:

Nectarines - imported
Grapes - imported
Sweet bell peppers
Blueberries - domestic
Kale/collard greens

The bottom line is that there is a lot of compelling reasons to eat organic food, and yet despite this, it is neither readily accessible nor reasonably priced. I try to buy organic as much as my budget allows, and for all food with edible skins, but if I can't find what I need in organic, I still buy it. I'm not going to deny myself strawberry shortcake just because I can't find organic strawberries (or because the organic ones cost $3 more!).

I do believe it's important to buy the organic foods though, because the more that people purchase organic foods, the more farmers will start running organic farms and consequently, the less expensive it will become. The environmental and health impacts of conventional farming techniques are too bad to ignore. Even if you don't want to go protest these methods on capital hill, spending your dollars wisely does make a difference.

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