Home Farm Herbery

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The USDA’s The New Dirty Dozen: 12 Foods to Eat Organic©

The USDA’s The New Dirty Dozen: 12 Foods to Eat Organic©


Recently I read a report or rather several reports that identified 12 foods you should eat provided they are organic because the 12 foods the USDA 2011 list highlighted were loaded with pesticides.


Here is the list.


1. At the top of the 2011 dirty dozen list are Apples. (Apples ranked No. 2 in 2009 and No. 4 in 2010.) More than 40 different pesticides have been detected on apples, because fungus and insect threats prompt farmers to spray various chemicals on their orchards. Not surprisingly, pesticide residue is also found in apple juice and apple sauce, making all apple products smart foods to buy organic.

I know you think that peeling apples will reduce exposure to pesticide residue, but be aware that you're peeling away many of the fruit's most beneficial nutrients when you do so!

When you can't find organic apples then try the safer alternatives which include watermelon, bananas and tangerines.

2. Celery again made it onto the dirty dozen list. It's a good one to commit to memory, since it doesn't fit the three main categories of foods with the highest pesticide residue (tree fruits, berries and leafy greens). USDA tests have found more than 60 different pesticides on celery. If you cannot find organic celery try safer alternatives such as broccoli, radishes and onions.


3. Strawberries (my favorite) are always on the list of dirty dozen foods, in part because fungus prompts farmers to spray, and pesticide residue remains on berries sold at market. Nearly 60 different pesticides have been found on strawberries, though fewer are found on frozen strawberries. When you cannot find organic strawberries try safer alternatives such as kiwi and pineapples.


4. Peaches, though we hate to see it on the dirty dozen list it is always there. More than 60 pesticides have been found on peaches and nearly as many in single-serving packs, but surprisingly far fewer in canned peaches. Try eating some safer alternatives which include watermelon, tangerines, oranges and grapefruit.


5. Popeye would be appalled to find Spinach on the list since it is loaded with nearly 50 different pesticides. While frozen spinach has nearly as many, canned has had fewer detected pesticides.


6. For those of us who love Nectarines, they too are on the deadly dozen list, at least imported ones, are among the most highly contaminated tree fruits. Domestic nectarines don't test with as much pesticide residue, but overall 33 pesticides have been detected on nectarines. So if you are having a hard time finding organic nectarines try pineapple, papaya or mango.

7. Grapes, especially imported grapes keep appearing on the dirty dozen list. Imported grapes can have more than 30 pesticides. Raisins, not surprisingly, also have high pesticide residue tests. So how does that affect the wine we drink since I have not discovered, to date, any watch groups checking on pesticides in wine. However, there are some wineries making organic wine.


8. It was with a sad heart to discover that Sweet Bell Peppers makes the dirty dozen list again because it tends to have high pesticide residue in all of its colorful varieties. Nearly 50 different pesticides have been detected on sweet bell peppers.


9. Alas, America's favorite vegetable is the potato; unfortunately, more than 35 pesticides have been detected on potatoes in USDA testing. Sweet potatoes offer a delicious alternative with less chance of pesticide residue.


10. The USDA did not exclude blueberries as it usually makes the dirty dozen list, since more than 50 pesticides have been detected as residue on them. Frozen blueberries have proved somewhat less contaminated. If you are wondering about cherries and cranberries as obvious alternatives they are often contaminated themselves. For breakfast cereal, if you can't find organic blueberries, consider topping your cereal with bananas.


11. Lettuce joins in the leafy greens category. Lettuce makes the list of dirty dozen foods with the most pesticides. More than 50 pesticides have been identified on lettuce. If you can't find organic lettuce a healthy alternative is asparagus.


12. Kale is a superfood and since kale is known as a hardier vegetable that rarely suffers from pests and disease, the USDA has found Kale to have high amounts of pesticide residue when tested in each of the past two years. Try to find organic Kale and if you have no luck consider safer alternatives such as organic cabbage, asparagus and broccoli. Dandelion greens also make a nutritious alternative. Put on par with kale for the 2011 dirty dozen list, collard greens tests have revealed more than 45 pesticides. It may be hard to find organic collard greens so look for organic Brussels sprouts, dandelion greens and cabbage.


At this point one needs to be seriously thinking about what one puts into one’s mouth if one is trying to eat healthy and while I am at it lets take a look at milk. One report I read stated, “Pesticides and other man-made chemicals have been found in human breast milk, so it should come as no surprise that they have been found in dairy products, too. Twelve different pesticides have been identified in milk, and milk is of special concern because it is a staple of a child's diets.” Years ago my family owned dairy farms and when a cow had mastitis we injected them with penicillin which does not break down in the milk processing so I wonder if that may be the reason so many kids or even grownups are allergic to penicillin.


I did find a list of vegetables and fruits called “The clean 15 green” and they include 1. Onions
2. Sweet Corn, 3. Pineapple, 4. Avocado , 5. Asparagus, 6. Sweet peas, 7. Mango
8. Eggplant, 9. Cantaloupe (domestic), 10. Kiwi, 11. Cabbage, 12. Watermelon,

13. Sweet Potatoes, 14. Grapefruit, 15. Mushrooms


Apparently these fruits and vegetables are so clean one does not have to buy organic.

Don’t think that you can load up on meat because one must remember that just because there are generally no pesticides found in beef muscle there are lots of them found in the fat. Fewer than a dozen pesticides have been detected in beef fat, but among them are long-lived chemicals that accumulate in human fats just as they do in beef cattle. The same pattern holds for other meats, with pork fat and chicken thighs tallying the most pesticide residue, while lean meat comes up clean. I guess Jack Sprat might have called it right!


For those of us who garden and use heirloom, organic seeds and practice organic gardening we are fairly safe as long as we do not indulge ourselves with a lot of packaged foods that contain mystery additives that change our own and our children’s moods and reproduction ability. The vast majority of consumers will just have to pay attention or risk cancer and other things that have come along on the ride with pesticides.

Tread the Earth Lightly,

Arlene Wright-Correll

Home Farm Herbery


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