Maybe it’s the extreme heat gripping parts of the country or maybe it’s just that time of the year when the ducks get lined up properly and months of research come rushing out the gates. That’s where we are in the food world.
I challenged Congress (the House) when they came up with the money-saving notion of switching to styrofoam cups in their cafeteria. It seemed like a backwards step then as environmental issues needed to be considered. Now several months later the formaldehyde/styrofoam study has come out, and it validates much of what many of us have believed for a long time. Skip the styrofoam.
The same goes for food on pesticide lists. For a number of years there have been lists of fruits and vegetables that should be considered safe and those that should by default move into the organic purchase pile. There have always been some obvious ones such as the berries which hug the soil. (If you crave strawberries, consider organic). It was common knowledge that if you could peel it, you could remove many of the invading pesticides. Not so fast, Jones.
The report from The Environmental Working Group points a rather strict finger at a fruit that is readily available and well recognized by most: The Apple. It tops the latest list of fruit-invaded pesticides. Apples have had other issues in the past with spraying, but the common belief has been that you could wash the apple well and solve the problem. This report discredits that philosophy.
So what is one to do? It is true that organics have an increased presence in most grocers and markets, but as we well know, the price for switching from the regular produce aisle to the organic one can greatly increase one’s food bill. Not everyone is a candidate for organic shopping. We want variety, and the apple has often been the mainstay of packed lunches and a go-to snack.
According to the report, the apple has some company that gives pause to summer purchases: Cilantro was tested for the first time, and the herb ranked highest in overall pesticide infusion. Its position gives it the unenvious title of having the most unapproved pesticides in any product since the guide was first started in 1995! Not a good position to be in.
Here are the rankings of the 53 fruits and vegetables from the “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides. Celery is probably pretty happy as it no longer tops the Dirty Dozen; it dropped to 2nd place! Celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, lettuce and greens (kale and collards) are the vegetables most likely to retain pesticide contamination. As for those on the Clean Fifteen, (The vegetables least likely to test positive for pesticides), they found onions, sweet corn, asparagus, sweet peas, eggplant, cabbage, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms. As for the fruits that score the best, those with the least pesticide residue, think avocado, mango, pineapple, watermelon, and grapefruit.
Just a week or so ago, the USDA introduced The Plate and took the Food Pyramid out of our lexicon. The plate is stacked in favor of fruits and vegetables. A little irony there, as we need to put the safest fruits and vegetables on the plate; not just any fruits and vegetables!
Timing is everything. Don’t forget your reusable container for coffee!