THE DIRTY DOZEN

About this time every year a few wonderful things happen that really get me excited… day light savings makes the days longer, trees and flowers bloom signaling warmer days ahead and… the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases its annual Dirty Dozen list. Okay so maybe I’m only a nutrition nerd and you aren’t excited by the third one, but here’s why you should be excited too.

WHAT IS THE DIRTY DOZEN?

If you haven’t heard of the Environmental Working Group, check them out. They are a not for profit organization dedicated to research and education on the environment and your health. From tap water, to cosmetics and even the food we eat, they investigate the products we use on a daily basis to help consumers make more informed choices on what we purchase.

Every year, the EWG puts out a list of the 12 fruits and vegetables that tested highest for contamination from pesticides. They also compile a Clean 15 list, the produce items that tend to have the lowest levels of pesticides.

For shoppers who are concerned about pesticides on their produce these lists help you choose which foods to choose organic and which may be okay to choose conventionally grown.

DO I NEED TO ONLY BUY ORGANIC?

The organic/conventional farming debate is heated and there is research defending both sides. Most consumers think organic means free of pesticides; however, that is not entirely true. There are certain pesticides that are allowed in organic farming, but these pesticides must be derived from natural sources and not made synthetically. “Natural” does not always mean safer or better. Personally, when choosing produce I do strive for organic foods or seasonal produce from a local farmer [found at the farmers market- even if not organic]. I make the same recommendation for my clients as well. However, the EWG list is a great resource if you can’t buy or don’t want to buy organic produce, whatever your motivation is. You can buy organic produce off the Dirty Dozen list and feel comfortable choosing conventional produce off the Clean 15 list.

The bottom line really is to eat more whole foods, which begin with fruits and vegetables. Don’t let the organic/conventional debate push you from getting at least a serving of veggies in at each meal.

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