Come autumn, my teaching kitchen becomes gluten free friendly and the produce purchased organic when it makes sense to do so. The EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists are used as guidelines for buying safe and nutritious fruits and veggies.
I often ask my students if they are familiar with the dirty dozen and clean fifteen. To this day I have not received an affirmative answer. The list was offered about a year ago. Let’s see if I can rattle off the full list from memory? You can find both lists at the end of this post for your easy reference. My wish is when grocery shopping, you’ll pull out that smart phone and confer.
Getting back to the question “Why Organic?” I have had numerous debates with family members and students about this issue. “Why would you want to spend more on produce that would seem equally nutritious?” I think the bigger issue for most, is why would I spend the money? My question to you, is your health not worth the expense? Expensive is a relative term here. Balance your food budget to exclude excessive meat or other expensive foods, and buy organic on sale when you see it. Where there’s a will there’s a way. To those who say, “Well studies show the toxin levels are not high enough to harm our health.” Here’s a thought, if I had a small vial of poison and asked you to try a tiny drop, would you ingest it? If you feel you can’t eat poison, then why consume it in your staple food items? Another argument is “Any type of scientific study is subjective.” Chemicals are not food. You eat chemicals? Then I hear, “Even organic soils are tainted by other environmental issues. Nothing is truly organic.” There seems to be some truth to this, but by eating produce ladened with pesticides, you are compounding the harmful elements in your food and body. I see organics as cutting down on polluted food. At least organic farming is doing something, rather than throwing up our hands and say, Let them eat poisoned food, because what’s the point.”
After reading much data and having faith in health guru’s like Dr. David Suzuki and Dr. Andrew Weil, it would seem abusive to my body, my family’s bodies, and my beloved patron’s lives not to provide organic produce in my clean cooking. In addition, why would I support pesticide and produce industries that don’t care about our community’s health. I get it. “Pesticides are important for plant protection, furthering crop growth, feed the masses!” Blah blah blah. The issue for me is there are alternative farming methods that also provide quality product with no chemicals or GMO’s. Another issue considered, the amount of funds and resources our governments’ primary focus on developing better farming? Not that it isn’t done, but more funds go to conventional crops, poisoned. Choosing organics lends to the wealth of the North American econonmy on so many levels. Outside of the health issue, frankly, organic produce, within season, tastes so much better. In The Spice Lady Cooking Classes, we are all about taste. Having fun, education, creating flavour and clean eating together!
In summary, I echo Dr. Andrew Weil’s words (goes something like this…), “Pesticides are toxins and can’t be good for you, toxic to our nervous systems, endocrines, risks of cancer, and other chronic diseases. Get rid of pesticide residues on foods we eat. Try to buy food that is certified organic. Good data, and measurable shows that the levels of pesticides in our tissues and especially our children’s, drops when we eat organic. For many people buying organic is not accessible or is seen as expensive or not practical. So learn which ones are bad, reduce consumption of conventional varieties, or get organic versions. You will have a measurable drop of statistical accumulations of pesticides in your tissues. If I can’t get organic versions of conventional, I will not eat them.”
Dr. Andrew Weil’s video produced in 2014, promoting organics, explains the issues quite succinctly. I am sharing it for your interest.
Here is a list of the most common fruits/vegetables that we eat. I have placed them in 4 categories. Those listed by American Dr. Andrew Weil and those listed by Canadian scientist Dr. David Suzuki. Which are slightly different. They both reference the information given is from EWG’s research. Produce listed in red are considered highly toxic. Dr. David Suzuki’s dirty dozen list is in order from the most toxic. His clean fifteen list is from the least toxic.