Organic Foods

What is the dirty dozen and clean fifteen?

To eat celery or not to eat celery
Lately, I’ve been trying to consume more organic foods. It’s a lifestyle change I’m continuously working on, albeit not an easy one. I’m also hoping it will rub off on family, friends and others. The first food I started with was celery. I noticed that every time I ate celery, my throat felt a strange “numbness.” It never stopped me from eating celery and I literally ignored this for years (I thought it was just the bite or spiciness of celery) until one day I chatted about it with a friend who told me she had the same issue and that it is due to the pesticides on/in celery! That completely stunned me. I tried organic celery after that conversation and for the first time did not experience that “funny feeling” in my throat, nor have I since! Not surprisingly, celery comes in a close second place after those poor apples in the “dirty dozen” list below, making it one of the dirtiest foods around (blech).

Organic in Greater Toronto
Many grocery stores are offering more organic produce and choices, thankfully. If you live in the Greater Toronto Area like I do, check out (alphabetically) Nature’s EmporiumOrganic Garage and Village Market. These health stores (and farmer’s market) offer a wide range of organic choice. Also, Organics Live delivers organic produce to homes across Canada and in the U.S.

Organic IS bang for your buck!
Choosing organic food means you are eliminating synthetic additives like dyes, pesticides and chemical fertilizers. It means food that has not be processed using industrial solvents, irradiation, or genetic engineering (GMOs). In foods that contain animal protein, it means the absence of hormones and synthetic nitrites. Goodness, how many toxins do we put into our bodies each day? It means supporting our environment, sustainability, supporting our organic and local farmers who nourish us, and it even means 20% more nutrients in comparison to non-organic food. I believe that is a lot of bang for your buck, particularly when you look at how processed, chemical-laden food can affect health over the long-term.

I was once told to think of organic food as health insurance! Every bite is a step in the (right!) direction of disease prevention. Why organic food isn’t more readily available/accessible in stores is just mind baffling!

The dirty dozen and the clean fifteen refer to the fruits and vegetables that are the most and least contaminated by pesticide use, according to the Environmental Working Group. The following information has been sourced from The David Suzuki Foundation and is extremely useful when choosing to embark on a healthier lifestyle that includes the reduction of chemicals in our food.

Pesticides are toxic. Many have been linked to various health problems, including hormone disruption, cancer and brain toxicity. Since not everyone can afford to go completely organic, these are budget-friendly choices that can help reduce pesticides in our food.

Should you avoid the dirty dozen completely?
(According to the David Suzuki Foundation) No! Fresh fruits and vegetables are healthier than processed foods. Allow the guide to help you in your shopping of organic versus non-organic foods.

More on choosing organic
Non-organic foods usually cost less money. But there are hidden costs. For example, the cost of demanding more from the earth than it can produce and the long-term health costs linked to ingesting chemicals. There is also government subsidization of industrial agriculture and foreign investment in commercial Canadian agriculture. Each time we buy organic, we prioritize it. Cooking our own food, home gardening and food preservation can help offset the cost of organic food purchases.

The change to organic takes time. That is why the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen are here for us. The list is a resource to help you make the best choices for your health and our earth, regardless of your budget or “greenness.” The dirty dozen includes many foods that have thinner skins. Print these lists and keep them on your fridge to refer to when you go grocery shopping. Consider going more and more organic if and when you can, for the reasons outlined above. Make your food choices a priority!

The Dirty Dozen (in order of most contamination)
Sweet bell peppers

The Clean 15 (in order of least contamination)
Sweet Corn (it is preferable to eat organic corn due to GMOs)
Sweet peas
Sweet potatoes

Remember, every bite matters!


2 thoughts on “What is the dirty dozen and clean fifteen?”

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