Do you have a favorite fruit, maybe a few that you love? Growing up in the northeast, apples have always been a part of my life. When my kids were little, we'd go to the apple orchard on weekends for apples, cider donuts and the chance to watch the donut machine in action. My love of apples has remained strong, and now that I'm eating healthy, I learned I also need to learn how to rid my favorite foods of pesticides, yikes!
We're all creatures of habit. Now that we're spending winters in Arizona, I've had to find new places to buy my fruits and vegetables. It's not something I ever thought about in the past, but very quickly I learned where I wasn't going to buy my apples.
Eating Healthy Isn't Easy
For years I've been eating oatmeal with walnuts and apple chunks. This recipe is perfect for my lifestyle at home and on the road, easy to prepare adding fat to my diet and lots of fiber, both of which are good for me. And now that I'm learning to shop online (here's my Amazon breakfast; click to order yours), my grocery shopping focuses on fresh produce, dairy and meat.
What really bothered me was finding every other apple bruised. A friend mentioned they bought all their fresh produce at Costco, so I went along to see if the produce was as good as promised — it was. Once I found Costco's apples had protective packaging to minimize bruising, it became my preferred grocery store.
And then I saw the headline, Dirty Dozen list of produce with the most pesticides with a photo of scrumptious strawberries. Testing is done by the US Department of Agriculture, with an emphasis on produce that children eat as they're more vulnerable. The Environmental Working Group compiles the “dirty dozen” list.
Eating Healthy – Buying & Cleaning Fruits & Vegetables
So it was time to do more research to learn how to reduce my exposure to pesticides. Here's what I learned and the articles I reviewed as you could spend hours on this topic and I don't want to claim that I'm an expert. The first time I found was to wash your “firm veggies” with a vegetable brush, but that didn't really tell me what to do about apples or strawberries.
While the dirty dozen focused on chemicals, I learned that thorough washing can also reduce (not eliminate) the risk of getting sick from bacteria on fresh produce.
- Try buying fresh fruits and vegetables at a local farmers market or CSA (community supported agriculture). In New York we got our strawberries the first week of June, while blueberries in New Hampshire were ready for picking in August … but in Arizona, well you get it.
- When possible, buy organic fruits and vegetables which have fewer pesticides but they're not completely free of chemicals.
- Rinse produce under running water for at least 30 seconds, and cleaning products like Fit aren't necessary.
- Spray fruits and vegetables with vinegar (one part vinegar, three parts water), and rinse under cold water to remove bacteria.
- Keep your refrigerator between 32 and 40 degrees, as bacteria doesn't grow well in the cold.
- Use a vegetable brush if you want to be a bit more cautious … hmm, do I want to add this to my morning oatmeal routine?
Resources to Learn More About Eating Healthy
Here are some of the best resources I found while researching this article:
- By AuthorityNutrition, 50 Foods that Are Super Healthy
- From the Center for Disease Control, Food Safe Tips for the Holidays
- From LifeHacker, What's the Best Way to Wash My Produce Before I Eat It?
- At BuzzFeed, How to Store Your Groceries to make them last longer.