Juicing provides us with so many wonderful nutrients from fruits and vegetables. Ironically though, because of the heavy use of pesticides in our conventional food supply, we need to remove peels and skins that harbor the most exciting, concentrated micronutrients. Flooding your cells with amazing and healing phytonutrients is wonderful, but if you’re also flooding them with pesticides, well . . . that’s not so wonderful.
One solution to this wasted opportunity is to buy organic produce for your juicing. Let’s face it though, sometimes it’s still not possible to be able to afford to buy everything organic. Buying organic is expensive! Organic produce can cost as much as twice the cost of its conventional counterparts! But until organic food is more prevalent in our stores, spurred on by consumers’ demands, the prices will remain high.
There are some ways to lower the cost some. Participating in food co-ops, where produce is bought purchased in bulk and shared among a group of people, or at Costco or Sam’s Club, shopping at local farmer’s markets, and using companies like Azure Standard (sort of a ginormous, traveling food co-op) are some ways.
Organic fruits and vegetables still need to be carefully washed, of course, but unless their skins are too thick for your juicer, you can throw them in the juicer to take advantage of all of those extra nutrients.
I’ve done some research and discovered that the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a watchdog group in Washington focusing on the food and pesticide industry. They publish the infamous “Dirty Dozen,” a list of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables. Sadly, with the exception of potatoes, all of the items on the list are very popular for juicing.
See how many of these you have in your refrigerator, waiting to be fed to young children or to be juiced.
* Cherry tomatoes
* Hot peppers
* Nectarines – imported (from where??)
* Sweet bell peppers
* Kale/collard greens+
* Summer squash/zucchini +
Notice the + symbol? No, those are not runners-up; they are vegetables and leafy greens that did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen™ criteria but they “were commonly contaminated with pesticides exceptionally toxic to the nervous system.” Exceptionally toxic. Let that sink in for a moment.
There is some good news. The Environmental Working Group concurrently released a list of their “Clean Fifteen™”
This is a list of 15 foods that have the least amounts of pesticides, so if you can’t afford to buy everything organic (or just don’t have a lot of organic available), these would be the foods that are safest when conventionally grown.
* Sweet corn (not field corn, which is genetically modified/GMO)
* Papayas (most Hawaiian papaya is GMO)
* Sweet peas – frozen (on their website, they had a photo of sweet peas in the shell)
* Sweet potatoes
It is also good to know that there is a variety of good, tasty, and colorful choices on the Clean Fifteen list. While I generally buy organic as much as possible, there are several foods on that list I never buy organic — avocados, pineapples, grapefruit, and mangoes among them. I also do not buy organic bananas or oranges either (curiously neither is on either list). On the flip side, I always buy organic apples, greens, celery, grapes, and berries.
(If you have not tried sweet potatoes in your juicer, you are in for an amazing taste sensation. Just be aware that the texture may feel a bit chalky in your mouth. Try cutting it with orange or grapefruit juice for a very refreshing treat!)
The bottom line for consumers, according to the EWG, is that “the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.” (Reference: Executive Summary, 2013: ) They continue by stating that eating conventionally-grown produce is better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. I completely agree here. It is better to get the nutrition than not, even if you have to buy only conventionally grown foods. Just be careful to wash all fruits and veggies well, and peel non-organic members of the list before juicing or eating them.
I hope you’ll come back tomorrow. I’ll be giving great tips for successful juicing!
Recipe of the Day
If you’re desperately craving something sweet, try this sweet juice that packs a huge nutritious punch and utilizes foods from the Clean Fifteen list.
Sweet Potato Punch
1 sweet potato
- Wash all produce well
- Peel the potato, pineapple, and orange
- Add all ingredients through juicer and enjoy (I recommend Breville)
Yield: 12-16 oz