The Clean Fifteen & Dirty Dozen

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Here I find myself, trying to pry a raspberry out of Isabella’s clenched little fist, stolen from my bowl of yogurt. An ooze of red juice running through her fingers, making its way over both our tops… She’s finally taken an interest in food. Exciting and petrifying and also as i’m witnessing in this very moment, extremely messy!
Introducing a baby to food entails a whole lot of responsibility. They don’t eat much, so not only what you give them has to be right, but you hope the quality is as good as possible too.

It’s really got me thinking about the quality of the fruit and vegetables we all eat. I’ve always tried to eat healthily and I usually get my fair share of fruit and veggies in a day. During my pregnancy, I flirted with organic produce for a while… Only to lose my motivation due to a month of particularly rainy farmers market Friday’s. Knee deep in mud, my pregnancy weight squelching me in that bit further, I had a lightbulb moment that I could be in bed instead…and that was it! It’s a very poor excuse, but for most of us, the cost and lack of variety of organic produce on supermarket shelves is enough for us just to give up.

Since Isabella has been in my life, a swan through the farmers market filling a basket with organic produce has been an impossible dream. A perfectly timed, between sleeps and feeds, race between stalls, with Isabella on my front in the ergobaby, trying desperately to remember my shopping list in my scrambled baby brain…all sandwiched between screaming car rides would put it more accurately. So we just haven’t even tried… Until now.

The argument for buying organic is strong. Simply put, people who eat organic produce eat fewer pesticides. The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that children are particularly susceptible to pesticide toxicity. Studies have linked pesticides with paediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioural problems.

Maybe there’s a middle way, where we could avoid or buy organic the produce which has the highest pesticide load and buy the produce which requires the least pesticides commercially?

Each year, EWG publishes a list of twelve produce with the highest amount of pesticides, “the dirty dozen” and a list of the fifteen produce least likely to have pesticides, “the clean fifteen.” This is an American publication, however it is often viewed that Australia’s non- organic farming practices are very similar.

The 2015 dirty dozen:
Apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, capsicum, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, snap peas and potatoes.
Apparently Australia also has particularly high loadings of pesticides in blueberries lettuce, cherries, kale, zucchini, broccoli, carrots and pears.

How many pesticides are we talking about? Well, from this extensive testing, 99% of the apple samples tested positive to at least one pesticide and a single grape sample alone could contain up to 15 different pesticides!

For the positive news now; there are produce that we don’t need to be so concerned about buying organic.

The 2015 Clean Fifteen:
Avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, rockmelon, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.

Organic produce can be expensive. At farmers markets, you can often find in-transition farms who can offer almost organic produce at cheaper than organic prices. It takes a long time for a farm to completely go organic due to waiting for soil to be free from contaminants etc. so you can often pick up a good deal if you ask about. And finally, you can often pick up frozen organic produce such as berries in the supermarket.

So from now on, I’m going to try to be more mindful in regard to the dirty dozen foods. Friday is looming and the weather is fine… You never know, we might even manage to become market day regulars.

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