Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dirty veggies!

I try to buy organic whenever possible -- so much easier now that organics comprise a huge section of my market. But I recently came across a list of the 12 most contaminated non-organic foods, and was horrified to see that the fruit I eat most often — apples — is No. 2 on the hit list.

The list was compiled by the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit in Washington that advocates for health-protective and subsidy-shifting policies, with an eye toward “shaming and shaking up polluters and their lobbyists,” according to their Web site,

EWG analysts developed this list based on data collected between 2000 and 2008 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from about 87,000 tests for pesticide residues in produce.

What If find most upsetting is that the EWG says that rinsing residue from produce does not eliminate pesticides. Peeling helps, but the peels are loaded with vitamins. And, according to the EWG, if you eat the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables, you consume an average of 10 pesticides a day.

Shopping used to be so much easier!

For the full list of 47 tested foods, check out There’s even a handy little list that fits into your wallet, so you will always know the most — and the least — contaminated fruits and vegetables.

Here's a list of the best -- and the worst -- foods:

Dirty Dozen: Most Contaminated Non-Organic Foods

  1. Peaches
  2. Apples
  3. Sweet Bell Peppers
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarines
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Pears
  9. Grapes (Imported)
  10. Spinach
  11. Lettuce
  12. Potatoes

Least Contaminated Non-Organic Foods

  1. Onions
  2. Avocado
  3. Sweet Corn (Frozen)
  4. Pineapples
  5. Mango
  6. Asparagus
  7. Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  8. Kiwi Fruit
  9. Bananas
  10. Cabbage
  11. Broccoli
  12. Papaya
I love making my noon salad, and like it even better now that I have substituted beans and nuts for the chicken. My mix is simple -- no proportions, I just mix enough to keep me satisfied and happily munching away while I eat at my desk. Since I'm chewing each bite of salad at least 20 times, it takes me an hour or more to finish this feast.

My Daily Salad
Baby spinach
Chopped fennel
1 scallion, diced
1 apple, diced
Daikon, diced
1/2 cup beans, such as chickpeas or black beans
1 Tblsp. chopped walnuts or sunflower seeds

My dressing of choice is usually 2 Tblsp. of a Newman's Own low-fat dressing. I love all of the Newman's dressings, especially the lime (very hard to find), and the ginger. But I was going through my recipes recently and came across an old favorite, long forgotten -- Apricot and Rosemary Vinegar.

I quickly made a batch and in a few weeks it will be ready. This vinegar is a perfect addition to any salad, but especially one starring fruit. Plus, it is perfect as is, without oil, so that automatically cuts calories.

Make it in bulk, then package in pretty glass jars, and the vinegar becomes a great gift from your kitchen, a wonderful take-along to any holiday party. Just be sure to replace the rosemary sprigs with fresh ones. If rosemary is not your favorite herb, fresh oregano or thyme works just as well.

Apricot and Rosemary Vinegar
4 dried apricots, chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 cups good-quality apple cider vinegar
  • Place the chopped dried apricots in a 3-cup bottle with a large opening. Add the rosemary and pour in the vinegar. Cover and shake well.
  • Set aside in a cool, dry place for 4 weeks. Shake once or twice a day.
  • Pass the vinegar through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth. Press down on the fruit and rosemary to extract as much flavor as possible.
  • The vinegar keeps in a cool, dry place at least a year.

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