It’s hard to imagine that I once hated grocery shopping. In college, I remember making trips to Trader Joe’s and being so overwhelmed; what to buy and how much??? I basically bought pre-made salads and other packaged items because I had no idea how to even approach produce. It’s funny because over the years I’ve basically done a 180!
If you’re like me, you’ve started to pay attention to your food and where it’s coming from. You probably try to shop organic, fresh, and local whenever possible. But even that can be overwhelming. Luckily, each year the Environmental Working Group puts together a list of produce that’s classified as “dirty” and “clean.” The EWG analyzes 36,000 samples taken by the USDA and FDA and then categorizes and ranks popular fruits and veggies into two groups: The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen.
The Dirty Dozen is a list of 12 produce items that have tested positive for most pesticide residues (this is even after they’ve been washed and cleaned!) When you get to the produce section and are shopping for any of these items, make sure they are organic (hint hint: for the third year in a row, strawberries topped the list for having the most pesticide residues!) It’s also important to note that washing produce will not get rid of pesticides. These toxins have already been absorbed into the produce. Pesticides are a threat to our health and are known to be linked to many diseases including cancer.
The Clean Fifteen identifies the non-organic items least likely to be contaminated with pesticide residue. This list has been tested “safe” and therefore means you can shop these items conventional.
It’s important to eat plenty of produce to guarantee that your body is getting the phytochemicals, nutrients, and vitamins it needs to be healthy. I’m sure you’ve heard it’s important to “eat the rainbow” but here is why!
- Fruits & vegetables that are red support heart and brain function, especially memory.
- Orange signals these items are full of beta-carotene and Vitamin C, great for improving eye health and immunity.
- Yellow fruits & vegetables improve circulation.
- Deep green is great for purifying the blood, strengthening the immune system, nourishing the nervous system, and warding off depression and anxiety.
- Blue and purple foods are rich in antioxidants and can prevent early signs of aging and heart disease.
- White reduces blood pressure and LDL cholesterol.
When it comes to items other than produce, it’s important to look for the words: organic, certified humane, free-range, pasture-raised, cage-free, grade-A (eggs), grass-fed (beef), and wild (fish).
It took me a long time to get comfortable with grocery shopping and now it’s one of my favorite things to do! Hopefully this information will give you more incentive to experiment in the grocery store and in the kitchen! Happy shopping!
Food for thought: Print out these lists and post them on your fridge or carry them in your purse while shopping!