It’s been a fabulous summer! You and your family are back from vacation and school is starting this week. You need to feed the kids, but there’s no fresh food in the house. What do you do?
Most likely you are forced to take a leap from the bounty of summer to the obligation of reality and are headed to the supermarket. You find yourself in the produce isle stocking up on the basics of nutrition; hoping to find something healthy that your kids will eat.
Your produce department offers both conventional and organic choices. You wonder how you can save money while simultaneously buying the healthiest items for you and your family. How can you stay away from harmful chemicals and why?
First let’s talk about the why. Isn’t organic just more expensive? The answer is no. Organic foods contain fewer nitrates, more nutrients (especially vitamin C), and have higher concentrations of antioxidants than conventional foods.
According to the USDA, pesticide residue remains on fruits and veggies after being washed and in some cases peeled. Apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes show a higher concentration of pesticide residue than other produce items.
How to Stay Away from Pesticides
Environmental Working Group (EWG) offers a shoppers guide to pesticides in produce. The Dirty Dozen (mentioned above) are the produce tested with the highest concentration of pesticides. Whereas the Clean Fifteen which include avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes are least likely to hold pesticide residues.
According to EWG many people want to reduce their exposure to pesticides in produce, but cannot find or afford an all-organic diet. The Clean Fifteen will help you find conventionally grown fruits and vegetables that test lower for pesticide residue. If you choose to eat foods that test higher for pesticides, you can purchase the organic versions.
Tip: EWG has an app which you can download onto your phone. It itemizes the clean fifteen and the dirty dozen so you can always have it with you in the supermarket.
This can all be so confusing. To make your life easier, look for the PLU sticker on the individual produce item. If the five digit code starts with a 9 it’s organic; grown without synthetic pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, genetic engineering or chemical fertilizers.
If the four digit code starts with a 4 it’s conventionally grown, which implies the use of fertilizers and synthetic pesticides. If you see a five digit code that starts with an 8, it’s genetically modified. These pose higher risks for children and should be avoided.
If what you need isn’t available or if you simply cannot afford organic, relax! It’s better to eat conventional whole fruits and veggies than to eat packaged organic foods or no fruits and veggies at all.
Want to Get Healthier?
Would you like to learn more about eating healthier foods and feeling fantastic? Let’s talk! As a Health Coach, I work with families who want to integrate healthier eating options into their lives. Ready to get started? Contact me today to schedule a 50 minute health consultation, or pass this offer on to someone you care about!
I received my training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I learned about more than one hundred dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. I will help you create a completely personalized “roadmap to health” that suits your unique lifestyle, preferences, and goals.
I look forward to working with you!