DietLike.Me with Elaine Sirt-Hastings
We should celebrate, though. Florida is a fertile source for many produce favorites and when our growing season is over, our neighbors to the north are still harvesting delicious fresh vegetables and fruits for us to enjoy.
We learn that ignorance is bliss, however, when we discover that celery can be coated in 67 pesticides. Yes, sorry, that tuna salad in the fridge is possibly dosing your family with chemicals designed to kill weeds and creepy crawly pests.
However, a new report by nonprofit public health advocates Environmental Working Group is a blessing to all of us who like to keep our produce drawers full and our doctor visits to a minimum.
The report is the result of poring through thousands and thousands of USDA pesticide reports. This determined which fruits and veggies have the best and worst chemical residue.
Here’s the good news. You can reduce your pesticide exposure by up to 80 percent simply by buying the organic version of the 12 worst offenders. This is an easy change which makes a major difference in your family’s health risks. And you’ll be hard-pressed to say it’s an expensive change, when you factor the cost against the reward.
The U.S. government says ingesting low volumes of pesticide is not harmful. But several scientific studies have shown possible links between pesticides and cancer, nervous system problems, weakened immune systems and attention deficit disorder.
The “Dirty Dozen” produce list is compiled of 12 items that contain 47 to 67 pesticides per serving. Here, in no particular order, are the 12 fruits and veggies you should definitely consider buying in the organic version: apples, celery, domestic blueberries, imported grapes, lettuce, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, spinach/kale/collard greens, strawberries and sweet bell peppers. The report lumps all the dark leafy greens together, making them easier to remember.
You’ll have to go to a little more effort to find organic versions of the risky 12, but you do have options. Mother Earth Natural Foods, Whole Foods, Fresh Market and The Sandy Butler carry many of these items in their organic section. Sweetbay and Publix also offer pesticide-free produce, so take note what’s available in the store where you usually shop, or explore a new source.
Punta Gorda’s own Worden Farm has a subscription service for its organic produce; check out its website to see what’s grown there.
I also like to buy cage-free, organic eggs.
The report’s news isn’t all bad. Have a look at the fruits and veggies that are least likely to be covered in pesticides, but don’t get these lists mixed up.
The cleanest produce outside the organic section are logically deduced, to some degree: many have protective outer coverings that are inedible. They include asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cantaloupe, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mango, onions, pineapple, sweet corn, sweet onions, sweet peas, sweet potatoes and watermelon.
You might want to tuck this column into your purse or glove box until its contents are committed to memory. Now what’s for dinner?