This week we have heard a lot of news about the devastating impact that intensive farming has on our population of pollinating insets – not just bees but all kinds of flying insects that we rely on for our food.
One of the many benefits of organic farming is the sustainable practice of minimising intervention in using contaminants – herbicides, fungicides, pesticides and chemical fertilisers – that can wreak havoc not only for pollinators but can have a detrimental effect on our health too.
Organic vegetables and fruits are also higher in Salvestrols – plant compounds that are cancer-protective to the human body:
- Salvestrols form mainly in the skins of fruits and vegetables as the plant’s natural way of protecting themselves from invaders and disease.
- Salvestrols are one of the only known substances to cause cancer cell death without harming healthy cells.
- If produce is sprayed by fungicides and pesticides etc, the produce does not get the signal to protect itself.
- Hence, we lose out on these powerful, natural cancer protectors.
This week 2 scientists have agreed that growing and buying organic is the way forward:
Prof Axel Hochkirch, who leads on insects for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature said “This is a real, global, dramatic problem.”
“If you buy organic food, you make sure the land is used less intensively,” he said. “There are a lot of studies that show organic farming is better for insects than intensive farming. It is quite logical.” Prof Dave Goulson at the University of Sussex, UK, also backed buying organic food. Read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/13/buy-organic-food-to-help-curb-global-insect-collapse-say-scientists
In this blog I want to introduce you to the Mean 18 and Clean 18 – lists of vegetables and fruits that are either more or less likely to be contaminated.
The information comes from PESTICIDE ACTION NETWORK UK (Clean 18/Mean 18) and also the US Environmental Protection Agency (Dirty Dozen and Clean 15)
PESTICIDE ACTION NETWORK UK
CLEAN 18 – LESS IMPORTANT TO BUY IF NON-ORGANIC as fewer contaminants are used in growing
- Brussel sprouts
Mean 18: THESE ARE MORE IMPORTANT TO BUY ORGANIC as more likely to contain pesticide and herbicide etc residues
- Bean sprouts
- Berries: blueberries, blackberries, strawberries
- Citrus only if peel is consumed: grapefruit, oranges, lemons
- tropical fruits
- Okra (ladies fingers)
- Peppers including chilli
- prepared fresh fruit
USA: ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
Here is their list of the most contaminated produce (most important to buy organic) known as the Dirty Dozen. The list is similar to PAN with a few exceptions.
- Sweet Bell Peppers and chilli peppers
And here is their list of the least contaminated produce known as the Clean Fifteen:
- Sweet corn (Note: could be GMO)
- Sweet peas, frozen
- Papayas (Note: could be GMO)
- Honeydew Melon
Here’s a quick and easy way to wash veggies using baking soda which helps to lift off any particles:
For leafy greens
- Fill a salad spinner with greens, then fill with water.
- Add a teaspoon of baking soda and mix well.
- Soak your greens for a minute, swish, dump, then rinse, and spin dry.
- If you don’t have a salad spinner, you can add the greens, water, and baking soda to a bowl, let them soak, drain in a strainer, rinse, then pat leaves dry with a clean lint-free kitchen towel or paper towels.
How to wash fruits
Smooth skinned fruits, such as apples, nectarines, and cherries, can be washed in a baking soda bath the same way as veggies.
Berries can be rinsed under cold water in a mesh strainer, then gently patted dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels just before you intend to eat them.
Although your instinct may be to rinse off berries when you bring them home, doing so actually increases moisture and accelerates spoilage, microflora, and mould. Which is why it’s best to rinse them soon before you eat them.
Simply soaking your vegetables for a few minutes or rinsing your produce in running water for at least 30 seconds will help your fruit and veg be safer to eat.