Strawberries & an (un)healthy dose of methyl iodide?

straw1This weekend my family and I happily retrieved some fantastic local produce from our CSA with Fresh Fork Market.  I’m telling you, I’m like a little kid picking-up a bag of sweets at the candy store.  It’s just so exciting to share in the local and organic harvest, fresh from the farm!

This week’s bounty included some fabulous strawberries. Our kids were thrilled because they are bona fide strawberry junkies (and yes, these photos are the “actual” strawberries… yummy, yes?)

Well, if your family has strawberry junkies too, or if you EVER buy strawberries for that matter, this next issue should interest you… (especially since strawberries are on the “dirty dozen” list and they retain a lot of pesticides!)

It seems the state of California, the nation’s largest agricultural producer, is close to approving a potent carcinogenic gas for use on strawberry fields and other food crops.  This chemical pesticide, methyl iodide, is a known neurotoxin that disrupts thyroid function, damages developing fetuses and has caused lung tumors in laboratory animals. Although California already classifies it as a human carcinogen, the EPA approved it for agricultural use in 2007 despite the objections of 50 prominent scientists.straw2

Really?  This just causes me to put my face in my hands and shake my head profusely.

I, for one, do NOT want this applied to anything meant for consumption, but I also shudder to think what this does to the air, water and PEOPLE that work these farms or live in close proximity.

If you agree, you can speak up and voice your disapproval.  CREDO is working hard to get the EPA to reverse this decision.  If you would like to sign the petition, simply go to this link so you can be counted.

In the meanwhile, we’ll be consuming these lovely, local, organic strawberries and hope that the EPA will rethink a decision as rotten as the tainted strawberries they are willing to feed us.

2010 update!… the “Clean 15” and the “Dirty Dozen!”

fruit shoppingAny trip to the produce department of a grocery store can give you moments of anxiety when you hover between the organic and non-organic section.  In a perfect world, they would be equally priced and you wouldn’t even have to give it a thought, but alas the world isn’t that perfect, is it?

A few of my most read posts detail Environmental Working Group’s lists of the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen – the fruits and vegetables that are very low in pesticides (clean) and those that receive and retain an extraordinary amount of pesticides (dirty).

Now I’ve learned that EWG has actually updated these lists for 2010!  I can’t explain the exact reason for some shifts but there have been changes nonetheless.  So here, without further ado, are the lists that you’ll want to know for that next trip to the store.

“The Clean 15” (BEST – this produce is acceptable to buy non-organic)

—  asparagus       —  grapefruit             —  pineapple
—  avocado         —  honeydew melon    —  sweet corn
—  cabbage         —  kiwi                     —  sweet peas
—  cantaloupe      —  mangos                —  sweet potatoes
—  eggplant         —  onion                   —  watermelon

“The Dirty Dozen” (WORST – this produce should always be purchased organic)

—  apples            —  cherries                 —  peaches
—  bell peppers     —  grapes (imported)   –  potatoes
—  blueberries       —  kale                     —  spinach
—  celery             —  nectarines             —  strawberries

In our other non-existent-perfect-world we would all have a local, organic farmer’s market a short walk from our homes that made every fruit and vegetable we want available at a cheap price, but alas… that’s not likely.  So print it, memorize it and when you need to make choices, know that you can make the wisest choices possible.

Why switch to organic coffee?… (a “greener cup of java”)

coff beansOne of my most recent “switches” was when I started to buy only organic coffee a few months ago.  I don’t really have a reason for not buying organic coffee sooner, except that (while I was worried about my to-go cup) I really hadn’t given the content of the cup much thought… no, not a good excuse, but an honest one…

There are a multitude of reasons I’m happy that I finally made this change… and they’re big reasons, so consider these facts:

  • Organic coffee is grown without herbicides, pesticides, and synthetic growth chemicals, therefore these chemicals will NOT be part of your morning java.  Avoiding these chemicals is also much safer for farmers and workers, and will prevent contamination of the soil, water sources and surrounding environment.
  • Organic coffee prohibits the use of sewage sludge as a fertilizer.  Yes, you heard that right… sewage sludge.  Every disgusting thing you can imagine that ends up in sewage can end up in the sludge that is added to coffee crops for fertilizer.
  • Organic coffee cannot contain genetically modified organisms or use ionizing radiation (both common in non-organic coffee production!).
  • Organic coffee can be shade grown, so large areas of trees do not need to be cleared for this crop, and wildlife and their habitat will also be spared.coff cup

If you think it might be easier to just give-up coffee (no, never!), remember that there are also health benefits of coffee… it actually contains powerful antioxidants and is believed to help protect a body against diabetes, liver disease, gallstones, and even the onset of dementia and/or Alzheimer’s…

I know there are times when we all think we might go a little crazy without our coffee(!), but the important thing is:  you want the benefit without the harmful “extras” and practices.

Organic coffee is the healthier, greener way to serve up a much better cup of joe.

The FULL story of pesticides and produce.

The other day I wrote a post about pesticides and using sea salt and water to wash fruits and vegetables before we consume them to remove those dangerous pesticides.

pesticidesWell, a close, personal friend, Will, was bold enough to call a foul.  He is very passionate about the topic and went so far as to call the post “lame”… (ouch!).

I’ll first say that the post was written in response to a few readers’ prior comments that they didn’t feel the added expense of organics was in their budget and had limited access to affordable and available organics because of where they lived geographically.  While I wasn’t attempting to mislead anyone or act irresponsibly, and this sea salt and water wash can remove the pesticides from the surface of produce, this is (admittedly) only part of the story.

The reality is that you absolutely cannot prevent consuming pesticides unless you are willing to invest in organics… period.

The fact of the matter is also that pesticides aren’t sprayed on the produce just prior to harvesting; they are applied constantly, being spraying and absorbed all throughout the growing process.  No amount of soaking and scrubbing can eliminate that.  This “solution” isn’t the solution!organic sl

And while we continue to buy conventionally-grown produce, we are actually (financially) supporting this farming practice, therefore lessening the demand for organics, slowing widespread distribution AND keeping their cost high.  All the while these pesticides are harmful to us as consumers, extremely dangerous to farm workers and contaminate our ground and surface water, as well as wildlife and the environment… a cycle that goes on and on unless practices change… dramatically. Pesticides (and herbicides) are simply bad news all around.

So, I’ve said all along that this “greening my life” would be a journey, mistakes included.  But now you know the FULL story… supporting organic farming is the only true option for an abundance of reasons.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program… hopefully with any further lame posts excluded! 🙂

Remove pesticides from produce… the cheap, easy way!

fruits_and_vegetablesI’ve talked a lot about the pesticides and chemicals sprayed on conventionally-grown, non-organic produce.   It always seemed crazy to me that our most healthy foods often come with a load of non-healthy “additives”.   And it’s especially alarming where our children are concerned.

You can stick with the “Clean 15” list and buy non-organic, but if you’re on a budget and run across that “Dirty Dozen”, what do you do?  Well, some solutions can be especially expensive to make.  And Fit can also get quite costly.

At a Health and Nutrition session I recently attended (where I learned about all of the grossness of fast food!) I also learned about a quick, easy and cheap way to clean our produce and remove those harmful pesticides… a recipe I had never heard before.

All you need is fine-grain sea salt and water!sea slt

  • First, wash the fruit or vegetable with water.
  • Prepare the solution in a large bowl by mixing one teaspoon of sea salt to each cup of water and stir it to dissolve the salt.
  • Soak your produce for all of TWO minutes.  (For sturdier produce, you can give it an extra scrub with a vegetable brush if it makes you feel better!)
  • Rinse the produce under fresh water, pat to dry or dry on a clean towel and voila!… clean produce!

It’s best to do this right before you plan to use or eat the fruits or vegetables, to help maintain freshness and because it’s quick and easy, it won’t add a bunch of extra time.

There you have it.  Now walk away and be sure to add sea salt to your grocery list!  Healthy produce, HAPPY MOM!!!

(The issue doesn’t end here… please read the FULL story.)