Apples Top The Dirty Dozen List

Article courtesy of Healthy Child Healthy World 

Editor’s Note: The Environmental Working Group recently released their 2011 Dirty Dozen list of produce with the most pesticide residue. This year, apples top the list which is extremely disconcerting given how popular apples are among children and how often they end up as the kid-friendly produce option in school, hospital, and restaurant meals.
It inspired a small conversation among the moms on the Healthy Child staff about what “scary” foods we get a little neurotic about in regards to our own children’s diets. Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, Executive Director and CEO of Healthy Child, admitted she’s been known to lunge across restaurant tables to yank potentially pesticide-laden strawberries off her daughter’s plate.

We wondered how other parents felt and posed the question to our blogger network. Our featured submission on the topic this week is from Betsy of Eco-Novice:

Here are some things I like to avoid eating:

  1. Synthetic hormones (found in conventional meat and dairy products)
  2. Antibiotics (found in conventional meat and dairy products)
  3. Dioxins, PCBs, PBDEs, DDT and other environmental pollutants (found in fatty animal products)
  4. Mercury (mainly fish high in the food chain)
  5. E. Coli, Salmonella, etc. (a possibility with any meat or produce)
  6. Pesticides (conventional produce)
  7. Genetically modified organismsGMOs (nearly all processed foods, and many other conventional food products such as corn and oil)
  8. Food additives (non-food ingredients added to packaged and processed foods) including: artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, preservatives
  9. Imitation food/ manufactured food substitutes: margarine, high-fructose corn syrup
  10. Plastic

And here's how I try to do it:
  • Eat less meat, more legumes.

  • Eat only organic meat, and try to eat only grass-fed beef.

  • Eat only organic eggs and organic dairy products.

  • Eat limited seafood, and mostly wild Alaskan salmon or U.S. tilapia (click here or here for more seafood advice).

  • Eat local foods from producers I have met as often as possible. Handle raw meat with extreme care.

  • I mostly prefer full-fat dairy, so I just try to eat less of it overall. I prefer lean meats and trim off the fat from meat before eating it (although I sometimes cook meat with the skin on).

  • Eat mostly organic produce from my farmer's market and CSA, prioritizing according to EWG's pesticide residue ratings.

  • Make as much as possible from scratch. If I buy processed foods, I buy them only at Trader Joe's or Whole Food's (since they don't allow most of the weird food additives in their products), and try to buy products with only a few recognizable ingredients.

  • Eat real food (butter), not imitation food (margarine).

  • Avoid plastic packaging. Never cook or reheat food in plastic containers. Click here to learn more about how to eat less plastic.

Obviously, I have more control over avoiding some things (preservatives) than others (environmental pollutants, E. Coli). It's also depressing that my list of things to avoid isn't even necessarily comprehensive. It seems I'm always learning of some new crazy thing going on in the world of industrial food, although by trying to eat predominantly non-industrial organic foods you can usually avoid most of these disturbing additions to your food supply. I also hope you realize that I arrived at this place after four years of gradual changes. In fact, GMOs only recently hit my radar. I just switched to organic canola oil a month ago, and I'm still adjusting to the sticker shock. Although these guidelines might seem complicated to follow, a little trick you can use is to pretend you have gone back in time, and can only buy or eat what your great-grandmother bought or ate.

Your great-grandmother did not eat animals that were given hormones nor antibiotics nor genetically-modified feed. She did not eat crackers made with genetically-modified soybean oil and high fructose corn syrup. She did not eat blue yogurt or tortillas with a shelf-life of 2 years. She did not cook with celery that had been treated with 13 different pesticides. She did not buy or store food inplastic.

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