Some fruits and vegetables should ALWAYS be eaten only if grown organically. No amount of rinsing, washing, or cooking, can take away the chemicals that have been introduced throughout their growth process. Translated, that means that you will be exposing yourself to a litany of harmful chemicals, many of which have already been well documented to be carcinogenic, cause birth defects, worsened neurological outcomes, and infertility issues—only to name a few.
The list of the most common fruits and vegetables that fall into the category of NEVER eating if they were grown non-organically are called “The Dirty Dozen”.
But, with the rising costs of food, must you exclusively use only organic produce? The answer….not necessarily. There are some fruits and vegetables that, due to their thick outer skins/layers and/or how they are grown, you can safely buy without organic certification. The list of these vegetables is commonly referred to as “The Clean Fif-teen”. I would, however, recommend, that if you go this route, you subject these items to a wash that you can easily make yourself. It consists of equal parts water and distilled white vinegar. For every one cup of water and one cup vinegar, add one tablespoon baking soda (but add it slowly as it may cause the water/vinegar mix to bubble up). To that, you can also add about 20 drops of grapefruit seed extract. Grapefruit seed extract acts as an antioxidant with antibacterial and antifungal properties, so it would be a useful addition to this mixture. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Shake well before each use. Generously spray the fruits and vegetables, allowing them to sit for 5-8 minutes after spraying them. Rinse well after the 5-8 minutes and before preparation. Why is this rinsing step so important? Because if you don’t do it and when you cut through your produce, you will introduce the harmful chemicals that have been sitting on the outer layer into the what was previously not harmed edible portions. So, please don’t skip this all-important step if you purchase any of the ‘Clean Fif-teen’ produce items.
So, what exactly does ‘organic’ mean? The USDA Consumer Brochure: Organic Food Standards and Labels: The Facts , has this to say…
- “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”.
So, by now you are probably asking, ‘What are “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean Fif-teen”? Well, here they are…
The Dirty Dozen:
- Berries, but most especially Strawberries
- Kale/Collard Greens/Leafy Greens
The Clean Fif-teen:
- Sweet Peas
- Kiwi Fruit
- Sweet Potato