Thursday, February 09, 2012
The Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15
One of the toughest changes we faced moving from the west coast was food. Not only were we leaving the food belt itself, but we were leaving the heart of the organic and buy local movement for a land that did not even have a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods Market.
Produce was a BIG issue. We faced challenges finding variety, seasonal choices and local items. Just about every item in the stores was bagged in plastic and stamped Dole, or some other large conventional producer.
Our first conscious choice was "no more Washington apples." First, they appear to be shipped green, are generally bruised, and are nothing like what we actually found in Washington. Michigan apples it is! And then we looked for seasonal.
Organic, now that's a heavy word these days. I always prefer to buy organic, but let's face it, organic can be expensive and we were now faced with a tight budget trying to manage two mortgages while the house in Vancouver sat on the market. So, I turned to the "Dirty Dozen." The Environmental Working Group publishes the "Dirty Dozen" list each year - a list of the top offenders, produce with high pesticide residue. They also publish the "Clean 15." This list is the 15 items lowest in pesticide residue. If you are concerned about chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers like I am these lists really help you become an informed buyer within your budget.
The other best practice is to find your local farmers market and local farms and CSAs. These days everyone should have a professional relationship with a farmer. Some of the small farms cannot afford to become certified "Organic" but you can learn a lot by talking to them about their practices, and more times than not you will find they do not spray or use synthetic fertilizers.
In the past we also grew much of our own food, especially apples, strawberries, spinach, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce, kale and collared green - some of the top items on the Dirty Dozen list. We plan to have our own garden here too.
We also eat 100% gluten free, but that is another post. Bob and Elle are celiac and Mara and I have high sensitivity resulting in anxiety related symptoms.