Thursday, October 21, 2010


Buying fruits and vegetables is getting complicated for me, which is a little disheartening for someone that eats a large amount of fruits and vegetables. This past Saturday I was excited about the last farmers market in Salt Lake City and entered prepared to spend some money on the fall fruits and vegetables I could store until January or so.  But then I started asking the question I'd been avoiding for a couple years now... "Are your apples organic?"

The only organic apples I found.....

It turns out I walked away from the farmers market with one bag of produce, a little sad, and serious questions in my head.  What was my priority, local, organic, or seasonal?  And why was that my priority? 

For many years I have chosen local and seasonal over organic, but based on the data, it seems like these need to work together.  The EWG (Environmental Working Group) has been putting out a list of the foods with the most pesticides since 1995, the current list gives us the following information.  EWG Shoppers Guide - You can get the guide at this website. 

My decision, even though I want to support local farmers, I can't do that and ignore what I'm putting in my own body.  I'll buy what I can in Utah in summer, but it looks like my trips to SLC in winter are going to include a cooler. I'll be buying many vegetables and fruits outside of (carrots, celery, spinach, and apples - the only ones I can get in Green River) at Whole Foods 2 1/2 hours away.

Dirty Dozen: The foods with the highest amounts of pesticides that you should buy organic or probably not eat.
  1. Celery (What does dirty mean? 2,953 celery pieces were sampled.  95% tested positive with detectable pesticides and some samples had up to 13 different pesticides on them!)
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Blueberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Bell Peppers
  8. Spinach
  9. Kale
  10. Cherries
  11. Potatoes
  12. Grapes (Imported)
Thankfully, I can find organic celery, apples, spinach, and carrots (#15 on the worst foods list) in my store all winter.  We grow a lot of kale in summer.  I've also frozen a bunch to go in soups and stews.

The Clean 15: The foods that always have very low pesticide rates and are safe to eat non organic.
  1. Onions (What does safe mean? 1,482 onions were sampled and only .20% were found to have pesticides and no more than 1 pesticide was found on the sample.)
  2. Avocado
  3. Sweet Corn
  4. Pineapple
  5. Mangos
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Kiwi
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplant
  11. Cantaloupe
  12. Watermelon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Sweet Potato
  15. Honeydew Melon
I'm just passing on this information.  We all have to make our own decisions based on what is available to us and what we are willing to pay.  I'm guessing most of you have a much larger organic section to choose from than I in mid-winter, and hopefully a farmers market closer than 2 1/2 hours away that has organic produce all summer.  Hmmm ... that just makes me jealous and even more certain that there is a large greenhouse in my future.

To end on an upbeat note, I went through a phase a couple years ago of trying a new different fruit or vegetable each week and Figs came out as my favorite.  If you haven't tried real, fresh figs pay the money and "just do it"!  These were my last figs of the summer and I'd already eaten 1/2 the container when I took the picture.  Shhhhh, don't tell Joe, because I probably won't share!

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