What goes on our food, goes in us.
To be completely honest, when I first started learning the truth about pesticides… I was crazy overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed at how much of our food is sprayed with these toxic chemicals, and overwhelmed trying to understand when to eat organic and when it’s not necessary.
At one point, I wanted to just throw everything in my cupboards and fridge in the trash and start over.
But that’s incredibly wasteful, and I knew not everything in there was contaminated with pesticides.
So I took a deep breath and started researching what was most contaminated.
I figured that was a great place to start.
That’s when I started to see the terms ‘Dirty Dozen’ and ‘Clean 15.’
Every spring, the Environmental Working Group (also known as EWG) releases 2 lists, the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15.
These lists are updated every year to keep you, the consumer, up-to-date on what it is you’re really eating.
They give all the details about the amount of pesticide residue left on (and inside of) fruits and vegetables. The highest and the lowest amounts. Keep in mind, they even wash the food before testing it.
What Are Pesticides?
We all know how important it is to consume our fruits and veggies, right?
Well, what about when they’re covered in pesticides?
What about when those foods are actually making you sick, not healthy?
That’s exactly what pesticides do.
Have you ever seen images or videos of someone in a hazmat suit spraying a field? They are in a suit with a mask because those pesticides are harmful to them! Crazy, right?
If it’s harmful to be around while you’re spraying, why would you want that inside of you?
Pesticides are used to kill bugs and any living organism considered a pest to conventional crops.
Pesticides are toxic. Period. There’s no debate over this.
They’ve been linked to a variety of health issues such as:
- Hormone Disruption
- Respiratory Problems
- Reproduction Issues
Pesticides can cause short-term side effects or chronic effects that can last for years and years.
They’re not something you should take lightly.
When You Can — Go Organic
Eating real food is a priority for my family.
We try our best to stay away from processed foods, added sugars and anything artificial.
But it’s equally important to stay away from pesticides!
Now that you understand just how bad pesticides are for your health, you can understand the importance of going organic.
Organic food is produced without using pesticides, fertilizers made without sewage sludge or synthetic ingredients, bio-engineering, or radiation.
This means your food is clean, pure, and ready to nourish your body the way it was intended to.
When you can, go organic! It’s a no-brainer.
Benefits of Eating Organic
- Prevents premature aging
- May help reduce risk of heart disease
- May taste better
- Ensures safety for future generations
- Boosts immune system
- Reduces toxic load
- Helps prevent cancer and other diseases
But sometimes, eating 100% organic just isn’t possible. Especially when it comes down to those hefty grocery bills.
This is where EWG’s lists come in handy!
They help you to decide which foods you should be sure to buy organic and which are safe to buy conventionally grown.
What Is The Dirty Dozen?
Let’s start with the Dirty Dozen.
Fruits and vegetables from across the country are collected for testing. They're washed, then each fruit and vegetable is tested for toxicity.
The ones that contain the highest levels of pesticides are then compiled to make this list.
A list of 12 fruits and veggies that are highly contaminated and you should always buy organic!
The 2022 Dirty Dozen List (Buy These Organic)
- Kale, Collard & Mustard Greens
- Bell & Hot Peppers
You can see from this list that fruits and vegetables with thin skin tend to test higher for pesticides.
It makes sense because the fruit has less protection and the pesticides seep in quickly.
What is The Clean 15?
The Clean 15 is the polar opposite of the Dirty Dozen!
This list is made up of 15 fruits and vegetables that have been washed, tested and contain the least amount of pesticides.
The Clean 15 (Okay To Buy Conventionally)
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas (frozen)
- Honeydew Melon
- Sweet Potatoes
Keep in mind that corn and papaya are typically produced from genetically modified (GMO) seeds. To avoid GMOs, buy organic.
These lists are fantastic to take with you to the grocery store. They can help you decide what you should buy organic and what you can get away with purchasing conventionally.
If you can afford it, go all in and buy organic. Your health will thank you!
Reduce Your Exposure
Wax On, Wax Off
Did you know that conventional fruits and veggies are typically waxed to protect them on their journey from where they’re harvested to grocery stores?
Trust me, you do not want to be ingesting that.
Yes, it’s really important to wash your fruits and veggies before eating, but just water will not remove the wax.
Simple Produce Wash Recipe
- 16 oz water
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
Add these ingredients to a spray bottle, shake and spray your produce thoroughly. Rub with a cloth and rinse well.
Keep in mind that washing produce doesn’t necessarily get rid of all those pesticides, but it does reduce your exposure. So be sure to always wash everything thoroughly.
Support Local Farmers
Getting your produce fresh from a local farmer who doesn’t spray is always the best way to get nutrient-dense food.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions like whether they spray, how they grow their food and if they use anything that is derived from GMO seeds.
Better yet, start your own garden and practice using organic methods.
It’s a great way to spend time with your family, to learn and to nourish your bodies the right way.
Tips for Buying Organic
Buying organic can be crazy expensive. I get it.
Your initial reaction after reading this post might be to throw everything away and go shopping.
But your spouse might not be happy about the food wasted or that bill you’re about to come home with.
So before you head out the door, take a look at these tips.
Because organic doesn’t have to be expensive!
- LOOK FOR SALES — Don’t pass up on great sales when it comes to organic produce. Always stock up when you see a great sale that doesn’t come along too often.
- SHOP LOCAL — You can find some amazing organic foods from local farms and shops. They may not be certified organic, but if you ask enough questions, you might be surprised to find out their methods are just as good with half the price tag.
- USE COUPONS — Take the savings when you can get it! Never pass up on using a good coupon. There are plenty out there for organic produce too, you’d be surprised!
- BUY GENERIC — Name brand organic food is always way more expensive. Sometimes 2x! Generic tastes just as good.
- USE FROZEN — Frozen organic cherries, blueberries, etc. are cheaper and easier to use. Be sure to check your local wholesale store for even better savings.
The Bottom Line
What you put in your body matters.
Improve your entire life by choosing foods that fuel and nourish you, not harm you.
Take steps to reduce your pesticide exposure by using the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists.
Stay informed on updated lists, they come out every spring on the EWG’s website.
I’m so proud to say that our elderberry syrup here at Elderberry Queen is USDA Certified Organic. You never need to worry about pesticides, herbicides, artificial ingredients or GMOs.
Get your boost of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants in just one simple dose.
Here’s to good health! 🌿 💜