March is the taunting month. One day we get 60 degree weather, the sun shining warm onto freckles and bare wrists, the next we get a torrential downpour that soaks to the bone in all its ice-water glory. So needless to say, on the good days I look out my window and dream of summer. (Actually, I do this on the bad days, as well.) And on these days I dream of fruit. There's just something about ripe fruit warmed by the glorious weather that sends my taste buds into a frenzy, and when that happens I can think of nothing better than to cut up a whole bunch of fruit into a cocktail, or make a half-gallon smoothie. Yet, waltzing into my neighborhood (non-organic friendly) grocery store and picking up a basket-full of fruit can wreak havoc on the environment — pesticide havoc. So I'm here to provide all you fruit fiends a friendly pesticide guide to make your favorite warm weather treats more eco-conscious.
Now it's not just the environment I'm worried about. According to the World Health Organization, between 1 and 25 million people suffer with pesticide poisoning each year. An estimated 20,000 people in the U.S. will develop cancer each year from the residue of pesticides on their food. With this serious of a "side effect," why would you not do everything you could to lessen the prevalence of them in your life?
When going to the grocery store to pick up some fruits for that recipe you've been hoarding all winter, keep these fruits in your "CAUTION: THESE MAY KILL ME" file.
The 10 worst fruits and vegetables you can buy in a non-organic grocery store, as ranked by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
3. Sweet bell peppers
With that in mind, it may be time to start reevaluating your shopping cart! For me, at least half of these are on my regular warm weather grocery list. So what do you do about this? Well, there are several alternatives to downing a whole gallon of pesticides in one sitting. For one, if at all possible, buy organic. For these items, it's worth the price tag. Remember to keep in mind that fruits like blueberries and pineapples have such a low pesticide load compared to their organic counterparts that it is still safe to buy them from your local Super Walmart (no offense, Walmart).
If buying organic just isn't in your price range, then there are ways to lessen the effects of these unhappy, pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables. This miracle fix, you ask? Just wash them! While washing pesticides isn't near as good as circumventing them altogether, you can still alleviate some of the issues that come from sneaky shopping landmines. You can wash fruits and vegetables with soap and water, a vinegar solution, commercial fruit cleaner, or for the DIY-ers out there, you can make your own with lemon juice, baking soda and water, or vinegar. You can find all these great recipes here
With this helpful little guide, you can navigate your local grocery store with ease. It just takes a little foresight and some easy-to-follow tips to make your recipes safe and pesticide-free. For now, it's 57 degrees outside. Time to go make a smoothie!