Fruits and vegetables are important for a healthy body, but it doesn’t make sense to eat food contaminated with pesticides.
Some crops are more contaminated than others, so if you can’t buy 100% organic, pesticide-free produce, it’s good to know which produce is most susceptible to contamination. Some people go by a very general rule of thumb that fruits and vegetable with thick skin are safer to eat since they have a protective layer. This is not always the case though, and make sure you still wash your organic produce before you eat it.
The Environmental Working Group produced a list to help us shop in the produce aisle. If you don’t already buy all organic produce, The Clean 15 list shows the conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables lowest in pesticide residues. The Dirty Dozen list shows which to buy organic, if you can.
You can download the cheat-sheet here, if you want to put it up on your fridge or bookmark it in your phone.
I like to eat local, seasonal, and organic produce as much as I can, and here is why:
1. No chemicals in my fruit bowl. Studies have shown that there are many pesticides on the market that are carcinogenic or that cause other serious health problems. Since pesticides are poisons designed to kill living organisms, I don’t want to eat them. It’s as simple as that.
2. Consider real costs. Currently, organic food is more expensive than conventional food, but that’s because we don’t take into account all the hidden costs. We pay for federal government’s subsidies for the production of conventional food, pesticide regulation and testing, waste clean-up, and the environmental damage. I know it can be difficult to buy organic when the budget is tight, but hopefully the pesticide guide will help you make choices.
3. Energy use. The large-scale farms are driving the business, not small family farms. The large scale modern farming technology uses an unbelievable amount of petroleum, and a ton of energy to produce fertilizers and harvest all the crops.
4. Support local economy. Eating locally, organically and in season cuts down on food that has to be transported from thousands of miles away. Local produce arrives at the market fresher and has more flavor than shipped produce. I live in California, and in Sacramento out of all places; there is no reason why I should not buy most of my food locally, and seasonally.
5. It tastes so good. When you bite into it, you can tell the difference. If pesticides are not used, the soil has to be well taken care of. Healthy soil = good food.
In addition to eating organic, I try to stay in season. By eating fruits and vegetables that are harvested in their season, you get the whole flavor and all the nutritional benefits. The strawberries don’t taste good in December, and why should they? It’s not their time. I’m learning how to be patient and wait for the seasons to bring in fresh and nutritionally dense produce.
Here is my winter fruit and vegetable seasonal guide. Of course, this is not THE complete list. The fruits and veggies with a * are especially peaking right now. Seasonality varies across regions, so it’s always best to look at State specific guides. You can find a full seasonal chart for fruits and vegetables, here. For a list of resources by State, check out Field to Plate.
Winter Produce List (alphabetically)
You know what’s not in season right now? The weather! It was sunny and in the 60s today in Sacramento! Beautiful day for a hike