I never really gave much thought to pesticides on my produce until I met my husband. My mom always admonished us to wash everything with warm soapy water, just like our dishes, and that seemed fine for almost anything we bought at the store. Actually, washing in warm, soapy water is still the suggested method of removing pesticides from your produce, and for many people, this is good enough. My husband, however, disagrees. Not because he is a huge naturalist, but because he is actually allergic to pesticides. If he eats anything with pesticide residue, his mouth turns red, starts to itch, and little hives will start forming. The worst offender is store bought peaches, even after a thorough washing. This is one of the reasons I became a big fan of Farmers Markets. I could buy peaches that he could eat.
Buying all organic, all the time, especially during the winter, is extremely expensive. One study, which can be found in Men's Health, and based on the books "Eat This, Not That," showed that 2,000 calories of junk food costs $3.52 in a normal grocery store. The same 2,000 calories of healthy food, in the same grocery store cost $36.00! The sad part is that only $0.19 of the cost was the food, the other $0.81 was marketing, packaging and manurfacturing and shipping. Another reason to shop at your local Farmers Market, healthy food without all the excess costs. This is also why I try and preserve as much as I can during the summer.
So, what to do?! Well, if you are lucky enough to live close to a Farmer's Market, go to the Farmer's Market! If it is winter, and your larder is bare, here is the Environmental Working Group's list of the dirty Dozen: these are the fruits and veggies with the highest amounts of pesticide residue, and if organic is available at affordable prices, choose the organic.
6. Imported Nectarines
7. Grapes and Raisins
8. Sweet Bell Peppers
11. Lettuce and Kale
12. Collard Greens
The Clean 15 are the fruits and veggies that have the least amount of residues, and because of their removable skins, or the way they are grown, can be purchased without having to buy organic. So, if you are in a pinch, and are watching your budget, spend the extra for the organics in the first list, and buy the less expensive regular produce from the list below.
2. Sweet Corn
3. Pineapples - Bananas
6. Sweet Peas
9. Domestic Cantaloupe
13. Sweet Potatoes
If you would like more information on these lists, please visit one of my favorite websites, www.thedailygreen.com.