Friday, September 17, 2010

Want To Go Organic?

I really wish that I could feed my family organic food all of the time.  However, even if I had tons of extra money to cover the costs of choosing all organic, I think that my family would starve if I only bought organic.  Where I live, there are very little organic options to choose from.  Even in a bigger city, chances are, that there are fewer organic options than conventional.
So what can we do to lower our exposure to pesticides from fruits and vegetables without having to always buy organic?

Well, thankfully an organization called the Environmental Working Group does our homework for us and publishes a "dirty dozen" list of the 12 most pesticide-laden fruits and veggies.  Now we can know which fruits and vegetables that we should either try to avoid or buy organic whenever possible.  You can watch a clip HERE from Good Morning America about the "dirty dozen".   Here is a PDF you can check out about it( the fruits and veggies are slightly different from those on the video because the EWG re-tests and revises their lists).
Watching the video upset me a little bit because as you can see HERE, I just bought peaches and nectarines to feed my little boy.  Babies and young children are the most vulnerable to the effects of pesticides.  I knew that strawberries were on the "dirty dozen" list and I would always try to avoid buying them from the store because of it(luckily, my dad has an organic strawberry patch at his house).  And yet, here I have been unknowingly giving my son two fruits that are even worse for pesticide contamination, thinking that I am doing the right thing for him.  Unfortunately, no amount of washing or peeling can remove all the pesticides inside these fruits and veggies.  Luckily, we can become educated consumers and avoid the foods on the "dirty dozen" list if we can't choose organic.  What's more, the EWG also releases a "clean 15" list that lists the 15 fruits and veggies least contaminated with pesticides, as you can see above.This info is also contained on this PDF put together by the EWG as a little shoppers guide that you can take with you when you go to the grocery store.  By educating ourselves, we can make better choices for our family, by trying to stick to foods on the "clean 15" list and trying to avoid the "dirty dozen" if we either don't have the option of choosing organic, or simply can't afford to choose organic.
What else can we do to help protect ourselves and our family from pesticide exposure?
  • Thoroughly wash you fruits and veggies before eating them.  Although this does not remove all the pesticides, it will help remove the ones right on the surface of the plant.  On the video clip, it said that a mixture of vinegar and water is effective.  In this article the EWG suggests scrubbing produce well.  I think I am going to make up a vinegar/water solution and keep it in a spray bottle in my kitchen and use it along with scrubbing.
  • Try growing your own organic fruits and veggies.  Even if you don't have access to a plot of earth, maybe you could try planting a container garden.  Maybe someone you know would like to work with you on a garden- if they have land to grow on, you could plant and tend to the produce and share the bounty.  I only have room for a small organic garden at my house, but my dad has tons of room and this year we had a huge garden at his house.  Not only are the fruits and veggies from it beneficial for my family, but gardening as a family can be a fun activity, and my son is learning tons of new stuff in the process.
  • I'd love to know about any ideas that you may have, please share them in the comments!

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