Pestacides & The Dirty Dozen

It’s hard to completely avoid pesticides in America unless you grow everything in a garden of your own but let’s face it, that requires a lot of time and determination that most of us aren’t fortunate to have. Most of my friends living in San Francisco don’t even have a backyard where they can have a garden. Though it would be a dream of mine, I decide to limit my pesticide intake by shopping organic when I can and using my Dirty Dozen Cheat Sheet.

I wanted to write this post because I believe that a lot of people still don’t really know the importance of shopping organic and I know some people that still think it’s just a fad. I also believe that the majority of people don’t really know what pesticides are, how pesticides affect us, and that shopping organically on a budget is doable. Knowledge is power and what we buy is important because as a community thats the number one way we can show our government what we want. Money(and how people spend theirs) talks.

This is one of the reasons why Heinz bought Primal Kitchen. They saw that this small company that cares about the people and the ingredients that go into their product was gaining popularity so now a brand like Primal Kitchen that was once only available in places like Whole Foods or other speciality stores can now be available to the masses at a more affordable price. I hope that one day, this happens to our produce. That Organic will be the standard and more affordable than produce that is grown and covered with pesticides and insecticides that directly harm us and our loved ones.

70% of all our fruits and vegetables that American’s eat everyday come to us with pesticide residue. What you have to remember is that pesticides aren’t just ON our produce, they’re grown with and in them. So if you’re not buying organic, growing your food, or know your farmer and their practices, you’re eating those chemicals. Pesticides are CHEMICALS aka POISON. I’m not trying to win an award for the most dramatic but they’re KILLING US, essentially. The U.S. uses 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides a year, but only .01 percent actually reach the intended target – the bugs. The rest ends up contaminating our food that we eat, air that we breath, and water that we drink. That is just plain insanity to me.

How Pesticides Effect Us

Pesticides directly effect us. It might not seem that way because you can’t see it and you probably don’t feel it but it’s there in your body. Pesticides have been linked to the following health problems:

  • Skin, eye, and lung irritation

  • Hormone Distruption

  • Brain and nervous system toxicity

  • Cancer

  • Blood Disorders

  • Nerve Disorders

  • Birth Defects

  • Reproduction effects

Those are all pretty serious things in my opinion. Those who regularly eat food grown with pesticides are at the highest risk of developing health problems, as well as farmers, those who live downwind or downstream of sprayed croplands, and infants and young children because their bodies are still developing. This is extremely important if you are pregnant or are preping your body for preconeption.

According to a 1998 study by the National Resource Defense Council, children living in areas with heavy pesticide use had strikingly impaired hand-eye coordination, decreased physical stamina, short-term memory impairment, and trouble drawing.

I’m not going to go over each health problem because this would turn into a novel but I encourage you to do your research and the research of where your produce is coming from especially if you have little ones in your life.

how to reduce your pesticide intake

Now that you know how pesticides can cause your body harm here are ways to reduce your pesticide intake:

  • Shop Organically

  • If you’re on a budget, shop by using a cheat sheet of The Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen

  • Shop seasonally, when you shop seasonally you shop locally and when you shop locally the chances of your farmer using pesticides are much lower.

  • Buy from your local farmers market. This way you can support your local farmers and put money back into your community and show your government how you want your food grown.

  • READ YOUR LABELS and know what they mean, this mostly goes for processed foods and meats but it’s still important

Organic on a budget

This takes some strategy but it’s doable. I know this because I do it. First, like any budget, you have to shop smart. Be prepared and have a list always and definitely refer back to my Dirty Dozen Cheat Sheet.

  • Buy from your local farmers market and if you live in a city like I do — know the different markets. Just like grocery stores the location and neighborhoods of your farmers markets make a different. This is the best way to shop on a budget because at the market they’re always going to be less expensive than at a grocery store. Always.

  • Know your markets. If you can’t afford to shop everything at Whole Foods look for alternatives. Places like Trader Joes have great options for organic produce. I heard that even Walmart is doing their part to make Organic produce available.

  • Not EVERYTHING has to absolutely be organic. You’ll see why below and this is why my cheat sheet makes a difference.

The dirty dozen & clean fifteen

Have you ever heard of the Dirty Dozen? The dirty dozen is a list of fruits and vegetables that have been tested and of all the non organic fruits and vegetables these have the most pesticide residue and should always be bought organic. Did you know that a single strawberry sample harbored 22 different pesticide and pesticide breakdown residues. Multiply that by how many strawberries you eat in one sitting, how many times a year do you eat strawberries? Then think about how many babies and kids love eating strawberries.

2019’s Dirty Dozen: Strawberries, Spinach, Kale, Nectarines, Apples, Grapes, Peaches, Cherries, Pears, Tomatoes, Celery, and Potatoes

Now that you know what the dirty dozen are it kind of gives you a better idea about the Clean 15. All foods listed under 2019’s Clean 15 had few pesticides that were detected on these foods and tests found a low total or less than 1% concentrations of pesticide residues. This means that these foods are safer to buy non organic and pose a lesser threat.

2019’s Clean Fifteen: Avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, frozen sweet peas, onions, papayas, eggplants, asparagus, kiwis, cabbages, cauliflower, cantaloupes, broccoli, mushrooms, and honeydew melons

I think it’s important to realize that we have a choice in how we want to treat our bodies and teach future generations that the food we decide to put in our bodies has a direct impact on our health and that we have the power to change how our food is grown.

If you click here you can download a printable version of 2019’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen cheat sheet to take to the grocery store or keep on your fridge