Food In Focus: Fruits & Veggies; Facts You Never Knew!

Fruits and vegetables are essential to a balanced & healthy diet; but is the produce we buy from our local grocers helping or hurting our wellness?  According to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies that protect global and individual health, it’s a great question for health seekers to think about! The EWG produces the Shoppers’ Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which is a study based on the results of nearly 43,000 pesticide tests… And you won’t believe what they’ve found.

 

 

Let’s start with some general information. The fact is, unless your fruits and vegetables are organic, they grew up in fields covered in pesticides & herbicides. And although the pesticide residues on our fruits and veggies are considered to be at safe levels for us to consume, who really wants those extra chemicals on their food? I know someone reading this article will brush off these claims as something relatively unimportant; but before you hit that back button on your web browser, let’s look at some of the EWG’s shocking results.

Of the 43 different fruit and vegetable categories tested, these 12 fruits and vegetables had the highest pesticide load, making them the most important to buy or grow organic:

  • Peaches

  • Apples

  • Sweet bell peppers

  • Celery

  • Nectarines

  • Strawberries

  • Cherries

  • Lettuce

  • Grapes (imported)

  • Pears

  • Spinach

  • Potatoes

Apples? Strawberries?? POTATOES??? Honestly, how many of the above fruits & vegetables do we consume each and everyday? I personally consume one or more pieces of this produce several times per week!

At Tasty25 Magazine, we believe the most important lesson we can learn from the Environmental Working Group’s study is this: In pursuing healthy lifestyles, we must be mindful not only of what we eat, but also knowledgeable about where it comes from, how it’s been processed, and how it’s handled. “We recommend that people eat healthy by eating more fruits and vegetables, whether conventional or organic,” says Ken Cook, president and founder of Environmental Working Group. “But people don’t want to eat pesticides with their produce if they don’t have to. And with EWG’s guide, they don’t.”

So now you’re thinking, “I want to adjust the produce I buy, but don’t want to break my bank!” Because let’s be real, it’s no secret that some of us find the expense of organic foods a little too much for our budgets. Well have no fear, Tasty25 is here! Listed below are twelve foods in the same study that had the lowest pesticide load when conventionally grown. Therefore, they are the safest conventionally grown crops to buy and consume from a local grocer or supermarket like a Wal-Mart or Target:

  • Broccoli

  • Eggplant

  • Cabbage

  • Banana

  • Kiwi

  • Asparagus

  • Sweet peas (Frozen)

  • Mango

  • Pineapple

  • Sweet corn (Frozen)

  • Avocado

  • Onion

 I would advise all Tasty25ers to utilize the findings of the EWG study, and adjust their produce purchases to protect against chemicals & bacteria whenever possible. If we want the best for our bodies, let’s give our bodies the best we possibly can! Remember: A healthy lifestyle is about the journey, not the destination. I’m leaving everyone with plenty of tips beneath the below photo to ensure that whether you purchase organic or conventional vegetables to make your Tasty25 recipes, you can go the distance to ensure food safety for yourself and the people you love. Let’s be mindful of what we eat, where it comes from, and make adjustments where we can in our healthy food purchases. Much love, and Happy Cooking! – Editor of Tasty25 Magazine, David Jones II

Fruit & Vegetable Health Tips:

  • Keep your kitchen countertops, refrigerator, cookware and cutlery clean.

  • Always wash your hands before preparing meals, and handling fruits and vegetables.

  • Keep fresh greens, fruits and vegetables away from uncooked meats to avoid cross-contamination.

  • Choose healthy looking, ripe fruits and vegetables when you shop, and try to avoid bruised, moldy and mushy produce.

  • Whenever possible, wait until just before you eat or prepare your fruits and vegetables to wash them. Fruits and vegetables have natural coatings that keep moisture inside, and washing them will make them spoil sooner.

  • Wash all of your pre-packaged fruits and vegetables, even if the label claims they are already pre-washed.

  • Also, wash all parts of your fruits and vegetables, even if you don’t plan on eating them.

    • Bacteria can live on the rind of an orange or the skin of a cucumber, for example. Though you may peel them away and toss them in the trash, the bacteria can be transferred from the outside of the fruit or vegetable to the knife you use to cut them, and then onto the parts you will be eating.
  • Gently rub fruits and vegetables under running water.Your firmer fruits and vegetables, such as apples and potatoes, can be scrubbed with a vegetable brush while rinsing with clean water to remove dirt and residues.

    • Don’t use any soaps, detergents, bleaches or other toxic cleaning chemicals. These chemicals will leave a residue of their own on your produce.
  • Remove and discard the outer leaves of lettuce and cabbage heads, and thoroughly rinse the rest of the leaves.

  • Rinse berries and other small fruits thoroughly and allow them to drain in a colander.

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Sources:

“5 A Day: Tips: Washing Fruits and Vegetables.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. <http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/5ADay/tips/washing.htm&gt;

Phillips CA, Harrison MA. “Comparison of the microflora on organically and conventionally grown spring mix from a California processor.” J Food Prot. 2005 Jun;68(6):1143-6.

Stolpa, D. “Wash Fruits and Vegetables – Why and How.” University of Minnesota Extension Service, 2001. <http://www.extension.umn.edu/info-u/nutrition/BJ779.html&gt;

Zander, A. “Washing Fruits and Vegetables.” Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Boulder County. June 30, 2000. <http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/columncc/cc000630.html&gt;

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