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The Dirty Dozen

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& The Clean 15

By Carmen Greger

Food is nourishment and is meant to be healthy, but even the healthiest, most vibrant foods, when grown hazardously, processed incorrectly and/or preserved unnecessarily, can be detrimental, toxic and/or lethal.  

Organic, sustainably sourced, locally grown food options are always the best choice, but oftentimes that comes hand in hand with a significantly higher grocery bill.  This conundrum is sending many these days into a tizzy at the checkout counter as they calculate the cost of their organic grapes and weigh the importance of clean eating.

One very simple guide that comes in handy when deciding whether to spend the extra coin for the sustainably sourced, certified organic or no pesticides/no preservatives label, is the Dirty Dozen Guide. 

The general rule of the (green) thumb is, if you’re going to eat the skin of the fruit or veggie, go organic. More Specifically, the dirty dozen should only be consumed without any chemical additives or preservatives and should be labeled organic or sustainably grown. The EWG (Environmental Working Group) states that ’70 percent of the fresh produce sold in American grocery stores contains harmful toxins, and what’s even worse is some of these toxins have been classified as potentially carcinogenic.” Their website (ewg.org), posts the dirty dozen:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale, collard & mustard greens
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Bell & Hot Peppers
  8. Cherries
  9. Peaches
  10. Pears
  11. Celery
  12. Tomatoes
  13. (I’m personally adding in blueberries, blackberries & raspberries here, just because)

They also offer insight into ‘The Clean 15’. Take notes and shop accordingly.

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Onions
  5. Papaya
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Honeydew Melon
  9. Kiwi
  10. Cabbage
  11. Mushroom
  12. Cantaloupe
  13. Mango
  14. Watermelon
  15. Sweet Potatoes

Keep it Clean: Consuming the chemicals designed to kill insects that would otherwise potentially eat the growing crops (chemicals like pesticides, herbicides and carcinogens) whether accidentally or intentionally, has been linked to multiple degenerative diseases potentially including cancers such as Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Leukemia, lung and ovarian cancer, as well as neurotoxicity, decreased cognitive function and neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease.  

“Pesticides became a mainstay as a way to increase the yield and profitability of farming. But there’s plenty of evidence that they’re neuro-toxic and carcinogenic for those of us who eat them. A large meta-analysis in the journal Neurotoxicology found that chronic exposure to some common pesticides significantly increased the risk of Parkinson’s Disease. Framing is one of the most dangerous occupations because of that. Studies in adults and children have also linked pesticide exposure to kidney, pancreatic, prostate, breast, and stomach cancers, as well as respiratory problems and depression”’ Dr. Mark Hyman

If you are focused on keeping costs low and are interested in getting your hands delightfully dirty and in a very clean way, grab some rich, vitality-boosted, non-toxic soil, seeds, starter plants and bins, and create your own ‘homegrown organic’ produce!  

Having fresh herbs, greens, tomatoes, peppers and more at your fingertips is a fresh, exciting, and inspiring invitation to create and celebrate yummy, seasonal home-grown dishes that your whole family can enjoy!

Successful starter gardens usually include Spinach, Kale, Lettuce, Rosemary, Lavender, Basil, Mint, Thyme, Oregano, Tomato, Peppers, and Bean Varieties, but many a new garden-farmer has successfully cultivated squash, sweet potato, kale, zucchini, broccoli and more!    

Eat your fruits and veggies every day, just remember that not all produce is created equally, choose, and grow clean and healthy! Spread the word and pass the organic apples please!

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