Monday, February 27, 2012

Dirty Dozen, Clean 15

This is a great article about the "Dirty Dozen", and it's very handy information when you have a strict budget for food (like me) but still want to make the healthiest choices possible. Since organic can be so much more expensive, it's nice to have this guide.

Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 of Produce
by Jackie Pou

A new report issued by the President’s Cancer Panel recommends eating produce without pesticides to reduce your risk of getting cancer and other diseases. And according to the Environmental Working Group (an organization of scientists, researchers and policymakers), certain types of organic produce can reduce the amount of toxins you consume on a daily basis by as much as 80 percent.

The group put together two lists, “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean 15,” to help consumers know when they should buy organic and when it is unnecessary. These lists were compiled using data from the United States Department of Agriculture on the amount of pesticide residue found in non-organic fruits and vegetables after they had been washed.

The fruits and vegetables on “The Dirty Dozen” list, when conventionally grown, tested positive for at least 47 different chemicals, with some testing positive for as many as 67. For produce on the “dirty” list, you should definitely go organic — unless you relish the idea of consuming a chemical cocktail. “The Dirty Dozen” list includes:

  • celery
  • peaches
  • strawberries
  • apples
  • domestic blueberries
  • nectarines
  • sweet bell peppers
  • spinach, kale and collard greens
  • cherries
  • potatoes
  • imported grapes
  • lettuce

All the produce on "The Clean 15” bore little to no traces of pesticides, and is safe to consume in non-organic form. This list includes:

  • onions
  • avocados
  • sweet corn
  • pineapples
  • mango
  • sweet peas
  • asparagus
  • kiwi fruit
  • cabbage
  • eggplant
  • cantaloupe
  • watermelon
  • grapefruit
  • sweet potatoes
  • sweet onions

Why are some types of produce more prone to sucking up pesticides than others? Richard Wiles, senior vice president of policy for the Environmental Working Group says, “If you eat something like a pineapple or sweet corn, they have a protection defense because of the outer layer of skin. Not the same for strawberries and berries.”

The President’s Cancer Panel recommends washing conventionally grown produce to remove residues. Wiles adds, “You should do what you can do, but the idea you are going to wash pesticides off is a fantasy. But you should still wash it because you will reduce pesticide exposure.”

Remember, the lists of dirty and clean produce were compiled after the USDA washed the produce using high-power pressure water systems that many of us could only dream of having in our kitchens.

The full list contains 49 types of produce, rated on a scale of least to most pesticide residue. You can check out the full list from on the Environmental Working Group’s website

Original Article here

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cucumber Pickles for Lunch

Well, the Little Hands garden has been in a bit of a slumber over the winter.

BUT, we have been dreaming BIG.

I've already scoured the seed catalogs and decided to go with Seed Savers Exchange. I love what they stand for, and I love what they are doing. I stuck to budget (25 dollars including shipping) and sent off my order today.

Over lunch on Friday, I sliced up cucumbers for the kids, and it led into a great discussion. We eat cucumbers quite often around here, but I never thought to make the connection between pickles and cucumbers. Pickles are another HUGE hit around here, but I don't know that I've ever served the two together in the same meal. I had a jar of sliced pickles in the fridge (naturally), so I popped them out and held a slice up.

"What is this?"
"What is it made up, though?"
"ummm...a pickle?"

I had them hold up a cucumber slice and then put a pickle slice next to it. Each kid immediately saw how similar the two looked. I explained that that sour, delicious pickle was, at one time, a slice of cucumber. The lightbulbs lighting up at that kitchen table could have provided energy for the rest of the day.

Simple concept, but they had never thought of it! I decided, while they were eating their lunches, to talk a little bit about our garden. I found that they missed checking on it every day. They were eager to give me ideas about this spring's garden. I grabbed a piece of paper and taped it to the window to collect their ideas. PICKLES. PIZZA. RAISINS. CARROTS. PUMPKINS. These are the ideas I knew I could expand on...I didn't write down ICE CREAM or CHOCOLATE MILK.

After each idea that I wrote down for them, I showed how we could make those dreams come true. Pickles? Sure, let's find room for cucumbers this spring. Pizza? I think we could draw up plans for a pizza patch and grow tomatoes, basil, oregano, and green peppers. Raisins? After discussing that raisins come from grapes and we don't really have the room for a grapevine right now, we let that idea go into the 'future dream pile". Carrots? SURE! Pumpkins? Well, yeah...we already know we can do that!

Here's Brady, enjoying a pickle cumumber 'sandwich'!