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The New Dirty Dozen?!

Hi Everyone, As you all know, I love fresh produce. My plate is typically filled with more vegetables than anything else, and sweet fresh fruit is an amazing snack that doesn’t send me into a sugar crash later. But I don’t love the chemicals that can be left behind by modern agricultural practices. When I eat produce, I want the nutrients that boost my health, not pesticide residue that can leave me feeling lousy. That’s why I choose organic produce whenever I can. With so many factors impacting our health, doesn’t it make sense to control the things we are able to? We can’t change what’s in the air around us, but we can choose what food we put into our bodies. When produce is certified organic, that means you can be confident that you are getting the nutrients and minerals and nothing else. It’s not always that simple, though, is it? I understand that organic produce is more expensive and sometimes harder to find. You may not have the time or the money to seek out organic all the time. That’s where the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce comes in handy. They have taken all the guess work out of which produce is essential to buy organic, and which is less important, with “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” lists. The EWG analyzed information from U.S. Department of Agriculture testing of 48 types of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. The analysis determined that nearly 70% were contaminated with pesticide residues.The extensive testing revealed 178 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products on the samples analyzed, and pesticides were present even after washing, and in some cases, peeling the samples. That’s terrifying, isn’t it? But don’t give up on finding healthy produce without breaking the bank just yet. There are big differences in the amount of pesticides found on these products, with several showing little to no pesticide residue. That’s where the lists come in. The produce on the “Dirty Dozen” list contains the highest pesticide load. All of these fruits and vegetables tested positive for several pesticide residues, not just one. The 2017 dirty dozen includes, from highest to lowest amounts of pesticide residue: strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers and potatoes. Pears and potatoes are new to the list this year, replacing cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. If you can’t buy all organic, I certainly recommend going organic with these 12. Almost 100% of the samples of strawberries, spinach, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apples tested positive for at least one pesticide, and one sample of strawberries contained 20 different pesticides!! The average spinach sample showed twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop. That’s a lot of unnatural chemicals to put in your body. But it isn’t all bad news here. The Clean 15 which contained little, if any, pesticide residue are: sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit. That’s a lot of delicious choices that don’t necessarily need to be organically grown. The best are avocados and sweet corn (sweet corn if not organic must be gmo free) with only 1 % of samples having detectable pesticides. No single fruit sample tested positive for more than four different pesticides, and only 5% of vegetable samples had two or more. 80% of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbage didn’t have any residues. That means you can whip up a tasty fruit salad with conventionally grown produce and not be consuming a crazy amount of unnatural chemicals, as long as you’re paying attention. If you can’t buy organic all the time, being aware of these results can help you make informed decisions to keep your chemical consumption at bay. Whatever produce you end up buying, be sure to wash it thoroughly before consumption. That won’t get rid of all the pesticide residues, but it certainly helps. You can also peel your fruits and vegetables before eating to reduce exposure, though that means you won’t benefit from the valuable nutrients contained in the skin. If you can’t buy organic, that certainly doesn’t mean you should avoid the produce section. The nutrients you’ll get from fruits and vegetables are so important and you simply can’t get them from processed foods. Besides, those processed foods have a lot of nasty chemicals in them as well – with little to no nutritional value to balance that out. Your best bet is to know the risks and be aware of the produce you’re purchasing. Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season, keep the Dirty Dozen in mind when making your selections, and head to the Farmer’s Market instead of the supermarket to find local, organic produce. It tastes better, and your body will thank you for keeping it chemical free! Yours in health, Maria Lucey, Nutritionist and Health coach 0438 112 050

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