This beautifully green breakfast smoothie was made with collard greens, frozen bananas, and the vegetable that ranks number two on the Dirty Dozen list of foods that retain the most pesticide residue: SPINACH. And it was delicious.
By now, I assume most of us are aware that the Dirty Dozen I’m referring to here isn’t a World War 2 movie. It’s a list/shopper’s guide created by the Environmental Working Group (click here to see Dirty Dozen list) of the top 12 fruits and vegetables containing the most pesticide residue so that consumers choose wisely in regards to avoiding as much pesticide in our diets as possible. In that list of 12, with strawberries holding the top spot, followed by spinach and kale respectively, I counted five foods that I eat on a regular basis, so by rights I figure I should be worried.
Well, number one because pesticide poisoning can wreak all kinds of havoc in your life including: cancer, fertility issues and autism among the few. For heaven’s sake, I cut out meat, dairy and most processed foods because of the ill effects they had on my body and to stay as far away from The Big C as possible. And number two because I depend on a totally plant-based lifestyle. Like countless others, my main meals are green, orange and yellow. I just bought a five-pound bag of collards (not on the list, whew!) the other day and cleaned them up to use for wraps and smoothies. Dark, leafy green veggies like spinach, kale and collards are my greens of choice because the darker the leaf, the higher the nutrients in them.
SO SHOULD I STOP BUYING SPINACH?
Honestly? I say absolutely not; nor will I stop buying the other produce on the Dirty Dozen list that are staples in my diet. But I can’t stay the thought of pesticide poison doesn’t worry me, as I’m sure it’s worrying other people. I don’t believe the Environmental Working Group (EWG) produced these pesticide reports for us to worry so much that we stop eating the very foods that have the health benefits we need. However, I do believe in being informed and preparing to live as healthy as I can. So what can we do? According to the EWG, we should take these precautions:
- Buy organic – because organic produce is certified as free from chemicals, fertilizers, radiation, and genetic engineering. But if buying organic is a financial struggle, then buy conventional produce and:
- Wash them – washing won’t rid the produce of all the pesticide residue, but not washing them is not a healthy alternative.
- Don’t stop consuming vegetables and fruits! Unfortunately, eating an adequate supply of fruits and veggies daily is a major issue in the United States. While the concern about pesticide residue is real, the EWG emphasizes that the benefit of eating a diet rich in fruits and veggies is greater than the risk of getting pesticide poisoning.
According to a Center for Disease Control study published in their Morbidity and Mortality Report in 2017, “only about one in 10 adults” eat the recommended daily requirement for fruit and veggies: two servings a day for fruit and two to three servings a day for veggies. Even without those statistics, a thorough look around in most neighborhoods reveals a host of people living overweight or obese, likely not eat enough veggies if they’re eating them at all.
So I’ll be buying organic when I can afford it. Otherwise I’ll be buying conventional and washing my produce as usual.