The Clean 15: Foods considered to be safe(r)

The Clean 15:  Foods considered to be safe(r)

Many of my friends tell me that they are still confused when shopping for quality vegetables and fruits.  Like me, they have had many experiences with buying something that looks great on the outside, only to find a few days later, when they cut into it, that it’s rotten on the inside. Have you experienced this too?  And we have also found that the organic produce can fall victim to this conundrum, though less often than for conventional produce.

To obtain the most current and accurate information on things such as this, I go to my friends at EWG (Environmental Working Group) to help me out.  If you’re not familiar with them, I can’t encourage you enough to get to know who they are and what they do…for you the consumer.  I swear, these people never seem to sleep because they are always advocating for policies that protect global and individual health–and that’s a full-time job!

Each year the EWG puts out a list for consumers that educates us on the best and worst produce choices to make.  This Clean Fifteen is the most current list for the cleanest choices consumers in the U.S. can make.

Whenever possible, I like to help EWG spread the word about one of its most valuable pieces of research – a Shoppers’ Guide to Pesticides in Produce. For nine years federal agencies collected information from pesticide tests performed on produce, and  this 2015 version is a collection of the results from those tests.

How was the date obtained?  

The report took into consideration how people typically wash and prepare produce. – for example, cucumbers were rinsed or washed and citrus peeled before testing.

What were the results?

In the end, the EWG came up with what they call the “Clean 15“–foods had the lowest pesticide load, and are considered to be the safest conventionally grown crops to consume from the standpoint of pesticide contamination:

Why should you care about pesticides on your produce?

The EWG has shown us that there is a growing consensus among scientists that even small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can have adverse effects on health.  This is especially true during the critical stages of growth for fetal development and as young children are growing.  It is now recommended that you wash all fruits and vegetables, even if they are organic.  This not only helps remove residue, but also the waxy coating on the outside (you don’t want to know what that’s made from!).  It is also recommended that you rinse all whole grains (except of course oatmeal) before cooking.

What other pesticide concerns should you consider?

I’d like you to look beyond the residue that surrounds your conventionally grown piece of fruit or vegetable.  I want you to look beyond the US and the loose standards that we have in place.  Even though you may purchase foods that you can peel such as bananas, kiwis, avocados, mangos and citrus, I want you to take into consideration what goes into growing those foods–possible groundwater that’s been contaminated due to high use of pesticides and herbicides, the soil itself, erosion, damaging local ecosystems and even time of harvest and travel distance between growers and your neighborhood market.  All of these things can produce products that are questionable.  Our growing children don’t need extra toxins in their small bodies!

What’s the best way to shop for safe foods?

  1. Change your mindset.  I’d like you to always take into consideration quality over price and quantity with anything you eat.  I’ve gotten rather picky over the years and now look to see where by produce is grown.  Grown in Chili, forget it.  Grown in US, better.  Grown in my community, even better.  Purchase foods grown within 100 miles of your home as often as possible.
  2. Buy organic whenever possible, even if you are purchasing the foods listed above.  It will last longer and taste fresher.  The color will be truer and you won’t have to worry as much about hurting you, your children or the fetus you might be carrying.
  3. Stay way from any foods that have been genetically modified or altered.  Apples, Sugar beets, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, bananas, peas and of course corn, are just a few foods found in the produce section that have been genetically modified.  Here’s more information on this subject that everyone should read.
  4. Shop local produce whenever possible!  This is huge.  Take full advantage of your local farmer’s produce.  Your food will taste better, last longer and you’re helping your community farms.  Learn which markets and which restaurants support their area farmers.  Find out what local farms offer CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs that you can take advantage of.  I highly suggest this.
  5. Don’t be shy when asking local farmers what practices they use when growing and why they choose certain practices for pest control.  Whenever possible, visit the farmers whom you buy from.  Learn what you can about them and share the information with your friends and family so they can also take advantage of higher eating quality local produce.

I hope you have found this information helpful.  Now that you know which foods are safer to eat, you won’t want to miss knowing which foods are considered least safe to eat.  These foods you will always want to buy organic because they are considered the “Dirty Dozen.”

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