Green Parenting: Top 12 Most Contaminated Foods

By Elise Jones, blog editor

Eating well is one of the most important things I do for myself and my health. It is also the best way for me to demonstrate how serious I am about my health to my children. They see me in my exercise clothes but they don’t actually see me exercise. On the other hand, the see me shop, prepare and eat my food on a daily basis. This is as real as it gets for them.

But eating well isn’t that simple, as we all know. I’m not talking about the Nutella (wink, wink) or the chocolates (but that’s good for, didn’t you hear?). I’m talking about selecting foods that aren’t just good for you but also GOOD for you. I know I repeated myself but let me explain the emphasis.

You can eat a carrot or a pear or baked salmon but if you buy non-organic carrots, pear and salmon, then you aren’t doing yourself the full service of actually eating well. All foods are not created equal; believe it or not, those carrots may be healthy but they are not good for your health. They could be contaminated or they might not be, but you have no way of knowing that unless you buy it organically.

You see when foods are slapped with the USDA organic seal, they have to meet certain criteria:

Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods. These methods integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.

There are other labels out there (free-range, cage free, natural, grass-fed, pasture-raised & humane) that DO NOT mean the same thing as organic. So be careful when you see them as all labels are not the same.

But I know organic foods are expensive but so are long-term health costs. And the saying does go “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” (Benjamin Franklin). But if you have to pick and choose (and don’t we all), here is a good way to do it.

Chef Douglas McNish is just out with a book called Eat Well, Eat Raw where in it he discusses the top 12 most contaminated foods and the 12 least contaminated foods. Here is an excerpt from his book where he discusses making a good choice when buying organic.

To help you make informed food choices, the following list — the “Dirty Dozen” — provided by the Environmental Working Group and Food News, lists the 12 foods identified as being most contaminated by pesticide residues when not grown organically. Also listed are those that are least likely to be contaminated when not grown organically.

The 12 Most Contaminated Foods
• Peaches
• Apples
• Sweet bell peppers
• Celery
• Nectarines
• Strawberries
• Cherries
• Pears
• Grapes (imported)
• Spinach
• Lettuce
• Potatoes

The 12 Least Contaminated Foods
• Onions
• Avocado
• Sweet corn (frozen)
• Pineapples
• Mango
• Asparagus
• Sweet peas (frozen)
• Kiwifruit
• Bananas
• Cabbage
• Broccoli
• Papaya

Excerpted from Eat Raw, Eat Well by Douglas McNish © 2012 Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

So copy this list and put it in your phone or wallet/purse. It’s a short list but it’s a list that will be invaluable when trying to be healthy and eat foods that are good for you. Remember: not all foods are created equal. Eating healthy and good also requires you to look at how your foods were created. Organic is better for your health.

Have any burning green parenting questions or topics you want me to tackle. Feel free to email me [email protected].

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