I am Dr. Marie-Sabine Thomas, a trained Naturopathic Physician and a fellow at Bastyr University Research Institute.

The purpose of this blog is to educate people so that they can make informed decisions about their health. I answer burning questions about natural medicine and discuss research findings that can better support wellness. I invite you to join the discussion!

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Organic…on a shoe string budget?
Posted on September 1st, 2011 by Dr. Sabine Thomas

Fruits and VegetablesListen up! You should never forego buying fruits and vegetables if the only kind you have access to, are not organic. Is it better to buy them organic? Of course! Luckily, in this shoe string economy, we have a choice over the types of fruits and vegetables we can purchase even if they are not organic. The Environmental Working Group is an organization that investigates the amount of pesticides in fruits and veggies. They have come up with two main lists; the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen.

The Dirty Dozen

The dirty dozen as you can guess, contains the top 12 fruits and veggies with the highest amount of pesticides detected. The fruit that tips the chart, with the highest amount of pesticides is our friend the apple, followed by celery, strawberry, peach, spinach and imported nectarines. If you often add apple and celery stalks to your fresh raw juices, I would highly suggest that you invest in buying those organic. Likewise, fresh strawberries are everywhere during the summer; cakes, in chocolate fondues, etc.. Spinach being high in iron is one of the best veggies to sauté during that special time of the month for menstruating women. So weigh it out.  If you are not using or consuming these fruits and veggies very often, then invest a little extra $ and treat yourself once in a while to an organic apple, celery stalk, spinach bunch or fresh nectarine this summer.


The Clean Fifteen

OK here you can go crazy…! The top five fruits and vegetables that contain the least amount of pesticides are onions, sweet corn, pineapple, avocado and asparagus, followed by sweet peas, mangoes, eggplants and cantaloupes. So skip the organic section for these and indulge in them not fretting too much about cost or high pesticide levels. Onions have great antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties and can make great pies (potentially replacing strawberries). Asparagus provides a nice dose of Vitamin B (which menstruating women need ). Essentially you can get creative and substitute an affordable non-organic clean 15 for a potentially more expensive dirty 12 veggie and fruit. Just work your budget and priorities out!

Stay in season and stay close to home!

I always suggest shopping in season or seasonally. For instance I would avoid consuming strawberries in the winter. They might travel much longer distances from warmer climates. This means they could contain a little bit more caustic chemicals to preserve and keep them fresh for the trip north.  In the summer however indulge in buying organic strawberries (if you can) and create jams* with the left over. Stay close to home by shopping at your LOCAL farmers’ markets. What a treat to meet, support or better yet, ask personal questions to the individual that personally takes care of growing the food that you will consume. Can’t do that in the supermarket!

*Keep an eye on for future blogs when I talk about creating preserves/jams and planting or supporting urban gardens.

For more information on the Environmental Working Group dirty dozen and clean fifteen, check : http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/

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