Photo credit: haans gruber
Fresh fruits and vegetables should be the food we consume the most during the day. Perhaps you read the story about the research “Human exposure to pesticides from food” done by the Swedish Environmental Research Institute and Swedish grocery chain Coop about what happened when one family of five switched from eating conventionally grown food to organic food, including changing their personal care products to natural ones. As you may assume the results showed that the levels of pesticides in their bodies dropped down, but the fascinating thing is that they dropped down after just one day. After two weeks of eating organic food, levels of pesticides in their body dropped to almost zero. Organic foods other than offering us a healthy body without pesticides it has high nutritional values. Although this survey was done by the participation of just one family it is clear that the results would be similar if a larger number of families was evaluated.
This is just one of many reasons why we should eat organic fruits and vegetables, but today organic food is more expensive than conventionally grown food. So many do not have the opportunity to grow their own fruits and vegetables or cannot afford to buy nowadays expensive organic food. The best option would be buying locally produced fruit and vegetables.
Pesticides are substances that are used to protect the produce from pests and diseases. Some aren’t dangerous for out health, but most of them are. Let’s say that this is a personal choice if you want to avoid pesticides or not, because Inspection Agencies monitor the levels of pesticides on food so it doesn’t exceed the maximum amount of pesticides allowed, but why should we eat pesticides if we can choose not to?! Today there is a wide use of toxic and carcinogenic pesticides like DDT, which are forbidden in many countries, but they can still finish on our tables for various reasons. For example nonprofit organization, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) published the “Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce” and the Dirty Dozen 2015 list. Here is the list of the most pesticide contaminated fruit and vegetables or the “EWG 2015 Dirty Dozen”:
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Snap Peas
- Sweet Bell Peppers
On the other side, they made a list of least pesticide contaminated fruit and vegetables or the “EWG 2015 Clean Fifteen”:
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet peas (frozen)
- Sweet potatoes
You should always buy seasonal fruits and vegetables whenever possible because they are likely to be higher in nutritional values, fresh and less treated. When we go to supermarkets and buy fruits and vegetables that are not seasonal, they are grown in other parts of the world, harvested earlier and undergo various treatments to protect the food while transported. Seasonal food is more likely to be locally produced and it costs less then nonseasonal fruit and vegetables. Locally produced food tastes better also because fruit and vegetables when harvested earlier and transported lose their flavor and do not taste as they should. So buy food that is produced in your region, it is more likely to be fresh and more nutrient.
Before eating nonorganic fruit and vegetables, it is recommended to wash it carefully for at least 30 seconds and if
you can brush it also so you can take off the wax if covered. Although washing fruit and veggies does not guarantee the total removal of pesticide remains it is better than nothing. You can soak your fruit and vegetables in few teaspoons of white vinegar, salt, and water and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. For leafy greens, you can use 1 liter of water and 1 tablespoon of baking soda, soak it for 15 minutes and rinse under cold water.
Some claim that the most effective way to remove the pesticide remains is to peel the fruit like apples and pears, but the problem is that the biggest amount of fiber and nutrients of some fruits are contained in the peel.
Organically grown food is not perfect when you look at it. You won’t find those huge and perfectly identical apples, carrots or peppers in an organic fruit store. Apples grown naturally on a tree do not look 100 percent alike. When you see those “strange” tomatoes with different shapes and sizes, buy them, they are likely to be naturally grown. Do not fall on those huge red, yellow and green peppers without any smell and later you will notice, without any taste… As previously said organically grown peppers won’t be the same size, won’t be huge and they smell like peppers. Same thing for cabbages, cauliflower, potatoes and other. When you see worms, snails and other little animals on your fruit and vegetables, it is a sign that there are not heavily contaminated with pesticides or not contaminated at all. Organic food actually smells and tastes as it should. My favorite test is with carrots, try those bought in a supermarket and then try those organically grown, what a difference! Last but not least – read the labels! Buy always food produced in your region if not able to buy organic, at least it should be less contaminated.