One summer salad — hold the pesticides, please

I count on my garden to supply me with most of my summer salad veggies, and after taking a look at new information about pesticide use — I may do some more planting tonight!

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However, when I go to the grocery store, I’m going to be prepared with information from the 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The new guide details pesticide loads for 45 fruits and vegetables after being washed. It also calls out 14 fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide loads (the Dirty Dozen Plus™ list) and identifies the “cleanest” conventional produce (the Clean Fifteen™).

I’ve noticed that when guides like this are published, we generally see news reports claiming that a particular fruit or vegetable has an incredible amount of pesticides and should be avoided as “food villain of the year.”

In my opinion, a much more important — and helpful — message is how to use these lists to empower us as consumers as we make food choices and incorporate pesticide-free options into the mix.

For example, if a fruit or vegetable you love and eat often appears on the Dirty Dozen Plus list — such as apples — you’ll know to seek out the organic variety. Examples of some alkaline-forming foods for better bone health that are on the list — in addition to apples — are bell peppers, blueberries, celery, grapes, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, strawberries, green beans and kale.

Happily, many of the fruits and vegetables that are important for a bone-building diet are also part of the Clean Fifteen, including: asparagus, avocado, cabbage, cantaloupe, eggplant, grapefruit, onion, pineapple, sweet potato and watermelon.

Since eating more fruits and vegetables is one of the most important steps to alkalizing your diet and protecting your bones, I suggest you grab your guide and head to the grocery store. Or consider shopping at your local farmers market where you can often talk directly with growers about pesticide use on their farms.

Find more information about alkaline-forming food choices in the article “pH and your bones — why an alkaline diet makes sense.”


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