Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Dirty Dozen

I have been meaning to write this post for quite some time. As you know we have taken a lot of steps to clean up our diet and our life. We took baby steps because I think that is what is practical and can help you maintain your new life style. When you try to change too much at one time it is just to overwhelming and you will get discouraged and quit. For example, when we began to drastically change our diet we didn't exercise. Giving up a lot of your favorite foods is hard enough and we wanted to concentrate on one thing at a time. We discovered that losing weight is so much more about what you put in your mouth then how much you exercise. I tell you that to let you off the hook just a wee bit with the exercise if you are just getting started. We were still fairly active people during that time and engaged in some physical activity just not like we do now. Don't get me wrong. Exercise is very important for so many reasons, especially for maintaining your weight loss, but like I said we were taking baby steps.

Along the way in my baby steps I had a thought like this, "Wow! Now we are eating so healthy. We eat tons of fruits and vegetables and a heck of a lot of lettuce every single day. I wonder what they are putting on all this produce I consume?" Imagine my shock when I learned that on some of my favorite produce over 60 different pesticides have been detected!!!!!! Enter next baby step: BUY ORGANIC!

I know what you are going to say. Eating healthy is already expensive enough and now I am asking you to think about buying organic. Trust me. I understand. I know how much money I spend on food every month. It hurts sometimes. We live on one income for the most part and our grocery bill is a huge percentage of our budget. Dave Ramsey probably wouldn't be that proud of my grocery budget.

So that is why I am supplying you with the 2012 Dirty Dozen List today. If you can't afford to buy everything organic like most of us Americans, but want to take some baby steps like I did, then these would be the top 12 things to begin buying organic on a regular basis.
This is the symbol you want to keep an eye out for because then you will know that it has been certified organic. And this is why you want to look for it......

“What is organic food? Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations.  Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones.  Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.  Before a product can be labeled ‘organic,’ a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards.  Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.” Consumer Brochure, USDA National Organic Program, http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/Consumers/brochure.html

I want to know that there are some checks and balances in place if I am going to pay the higher price for my food. I look for this label because I know that a farm is following the rules and that certifier's have actually visited the farm where it is being grown. Are you ready for the list??

2012 Dirty Dozen List

#1 APPLES   - Are always on the list and usually near the top. They have had over 40 pesticides detected on them. This also means you need to buy applesauce and apple juice organic. Many of the pesticides and fungicides are added after harvest to preserve shelf life.
#2 CELERY - Has been labeled the dirtiest vegetable with over 60 different pesticides detected.

#3 STRAWBERRIES - Over 60 pesticides. Frozen strawberries usually have less.

#4 PEACHES - Always on the list and over 60 pesticides. There are fewer in canned peaches but those single serving kinds still have plenty.

 #5 SPINACH- Leads the leafy green pack at 50 pesticides. Frozen still has nearly as many but canned does a bit better.

#6 NECTARINES (IMPORTED) - Has tested as high as 33 pesticides but domestic peaches are better.

#7 GRAPES (IMPORTED) - More than 30 pesticides detected and this also brings into question raisins and wine.

#8 SWEET BELL PEPPERS- All color varieties are affected. Over 50 pesticides used.

#9 POTATOES - Interestingly 91% of potatoes will test positive for pesticides and over 35 have been detected. Sweet potatoes have less chance for residue.

#10 BLUEBERRIES - My favorite! They unfortunately usually make the list with over 50 pesticides. Frozen are a bit better. Cranberries and cherries are often contaminated too even if not on the list.

#11 LETTUCE - This is the one that bothers me most because I eat the most of it at more than 50 pesticides. I do prefer to buy my lettuce organic and triple washed anyway in the boxes.

#12 KALE &COLLARD GREENS (Tied for 12th)
 I know these two aren't on that many American plates anyway but in case I have talked you into adding kale to your diet then you should be aware. Traditionally kale has been known to be a pretty hearty vegetable not in need of pesticide but it has made the list for two years now.

I know it might be hard to remember these at the store so keep a list in your wallet or purse somewhere and the more you buy these organic the more you will remember. Also try to remember these three main categories, TREE FRUITS, BERRIES, AND LEAFY GREENS. These are typically in the danger zone! Picking 5 fruits and vegetables to eat from the 12 most contaminated can cause you to consume 14 different pesticides in one day. I don't know about you but that would be pretty easy for me to do almost every day!

The Enviromental Working Group puts out this list every year. The foods are ranked on how much or how little pesticide they contain. The group estimates that you can reduce your exposure to pesticides by 80% or more if you switch to organic for these 12 foods. (actually 13 with that tie) The USDA does set allowable pesticide residue limits it deems safe but some watch dog groups think it is too liberal. The EWG does also say that the benefits of eating fresh fruits and veggies does outweigh the the known risk of consuming pesticide. But if you can reduce your risk that much by shelling out a bit more cash for these foods than it just might be worth it! I am trying to protect myself from cancer, not give it to myself by consuming pesticides.

If you refuse to buy organic then promise me you will start washing these 12 things much better with something like this .....
Or you can use plain vinegar as well and really get in there and scrub them up!

Also keep in mind that there are other foods besides fruits and vegetables that contain pesticides and you should think about buying those organic as well. A few worth mentioning are milk, wine, chocolate, and coffee. Many of those things are grown overseas where there are lax regulations on pesticides and for things like coffee that you can't really wash it is worth considering. Interestingly enough pesticides are found in fatty meats as well but lean meats come up clean.

Thank you for reading such a long post! I am really hoping to get to something more fun tomorrow; the blog giveaway post! One sick child has consumed my day today so I am a bit behind. So stay tuned for pictures of what I am giving away and how you can get your little self entered!


Samantha said...

great post!!! I know it probably took awhile to write!!!

Pam Rohde said...

Only fellow bloggers can understand just how much time is involved!!! Thanks!