Monday, October 3, 2011

31 Days of Natural Nutrition: Day 3 ~ Why Organic?

Forgive me if these first few posts seem "introductory" to some of you more seasoned nutritionistas, but I figure it will best serve me to flesh out the whys of what I'm doing in an effort to make it stick and remind me of my goals.

Today, I want to tackle why we've chosen to go organic. First, I want to post what's called the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean 15." These are lists of the 12 foods to always (or whenever possible) buy organic and the 15 cleanest (least chemically treated) foods. I find these lists help me discern how to make the safest choice when I need to buy conventionally grown produce. The lists are courtesy of the Environmental Working Group.

The Dirty Dozen

1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Strawberries
4. Peaches
5. Spinach
6. Nectarines ~ imported
7. Grapes ~ imported
8. Sweet bell peppers
9. Potatoes
10. Blueberries ~ domestic
11. Lettuce
12. Kale/collard greens

The Clean 15

1. Onions
2. Sweet corn
3. Pineapples
4. Avocado
5. Asparagus
6. Sweet peas
7. Mangoes
8. Eggplant
9. Cantaloupe ~ domestic
10. Kiwi
11. Cabbage
12. Watermelon
13. Sweet potatoes
14. Grapefruit
15. Mushrooms

Am I posting this info as a scare tactic? Yes, and no. I do want to "scare" people away from buying chemical- and pesticide-laden produce for their families, especially their children. More importantly though, I want to inform people of the situation at hand so they can in turn make informed decisions on what type of produce they buy. I'm not exaggerating in saying that the overuse of pesticides in our society makes me fighting mad. I mean, sure it might've been OK decades ago when we didn't know better, but now we do. We're knowingly poisoning our people little by little. OK, coming down off the soapbox now. 

I know a huge concern for families in whether or not to buy organic produce is the affordability factor. Budgetary constraints unfortunately do not care whether an apple's organic or conventional. That's why I think the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists can be extremely helpful to a mom who wants to reduce chemical exposure in her home.

Did you know there can be as many as four pesticides on one little apple? Not to mention the wax it's coated with to make it sit there all shiny on your grocer's table. Gag. Raisins are another food not mentioned above, but worth investing the extra money in for organic. Grapes are on the dirty dozen list, so those raisins are highly chemically treated. I don't know about you, but my kid eats A LOT of raisins. I don't want to sweat about what else he's ingesting, so I go organic on those.

I could go on for days on this subject once I get all impassioned, but I'll spare you and only mention one more important food choice we make: organic milk. My husband actually had a doctor he works with tell him that if he was going to do anything organic at all, at least buy organic milk. I know, it's got a high price tag so it hits the pocketbook hard. On the flip side though, it's free of hormones, chemicals, and is produced in an environmentally friendly way. 

If you're new to the world of organic food, I'd suggest doing some independent research to see what will work best to ease your family into the changes. Look into local co-op opportunities, CSAs (community supported agriculture), or even farmer's markets. These options tend to be more affordable and offer better selection than your typical chain grocery store. 

It's so easy to want to overhaul your family's diet and nutrition in one fell swoop, but one step at a time does it just fine. I say just making the choice to be cognizant about what you're putting on your table is a step in the right direction.

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