- I definitely wasn’t born with a green thumb, but I have taken it on myself to learn how to grow some of your family’s favorites—such as tomatoes, potatoes, onions, carrots, peas, cucumbers, pumpkins or watermelon.
- Kinda ambitious considering that every houseplant that I’ve ever bought has died within a month, right?!
- These are my three goals…
- —Patio garden
- —Square foot gardening
- —Windowsill herb garden
- I so look forward to eating homegrown veggies that I can be proud of and showing off my hopefully-new harvesting skills….so in the next three posts, I wll be “doing my homework” so that I can get started on this new adventure…Come grow with me!!!
(Yes…I know that this post looks wierd with all the stupid dots, but I can’t figure out how to get rid of them)…
Now that we’ve taken a look at which fruits you should be buying in organic form, let’s consider veggies.
The following veggies are ones that you really should be buying in organic form…
More than 95% percent of the celery sampled by the EWG contained up to 13 chemicals….so this is another vegetable that you should buy as organic.
Even though the EWG considers to be a low-pesticide crop and tests have shown that less than 2% of sweet corn has any pesticide residue, you really should consider buying organic corn.
Because much of the corn grown here in the United States is produced from seeds that have been genetically modified….and many of us are trying to avoid foods that contain GMOs…and even the USDA doesn’t consider foods that are grown from GMO seeds to be classified as organic.
Collard greens, even though considered on the hardier vegetables, contain high levels of pesticides.
Cucumbers rank among the list of the top ten vegetables that are grown with the highest amount of pesticides.
Not only that, most cucumbers sold in grocery stores have had synthetic waxes applies on their skins—kinda like apples—and this wax, even though it is applied to preserve moisture, often contains a large number of pesticides.
So always buy organic cucumbers…or at least take the time to peel them before using.
Hot peppers, or simply peppers in general, are always best to buy in organic form because they all have been shown to have high levels of pesticides.
Over 92% of conventional kale samples tested positive for two or more pesticide residues…some containing over eighteen different pesticide residues.
A major pesticide to be concerned about when considering whether or not to buy organic kale is the fact that it has been shown to contain DCPA (Dacthal), a substance that has been banned in Europe for at least ten years and is classified as a potential human carcinogen by the EPA.
Sixty percent of these samples tested had traces of this particular pesticide.
You would think that potatoes would be hardy enough not to have to buy in organic form, but nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, conventional potatoes have been shown to have more pesticides than any other crop. since they require nutrient-rich soil and are often grown with artificial fertilizers.
Even though organic cherries can be quite expensive, it’s important to that you buy organic cherries because cherries maintain an average of five pesticides, including iprodione, a chemical that may cause cancer.
Since grapes contain such high levels of pesticides, you should also assume that non-organic wine will expose you to these high levels of pesticides also…and not only that,organic wines contain fewer sulfites, chemical preservatives that can trigger asthma-like symptoms.
Because grapes tend to mold, attract insects and ripen too quickly,, farmers typically use pesticides on their grapes.
And because grapes are so simple to grab right out of the bag and munch on without taking the time to wash them, not only are you munching down on the grape, but also an average of five pesticides per grape.
Nectarines are another fruit that you should always buy organic.
Nectarines, especially imported nectarines, contain a high level of contaminants. In fact, studies havce shown that about 94% of the nectarines in a given sample contained anywhere from two to fifteen different pesticides.
Peaches are known to contain high levels of pesticides….in fact more than 99% of non-organic peaches have been shown to contain detectable pesticide residues, typically of four different pesticides.
Of all the fruits found in your local grocery store or farmers market, strawberrie are the most important fruit to buy in organic form…in fact, if you can’t find organic strawberries, don’t buy any at all.
This is because strawberries are probably the most pesticide-contaminated food out there.
The Environmental Working Group has found that over 99% of strawberries contain at least two or more pesticides…many of them containing up to forty different pesticides.
While two of my main goals lately have been to start eating healthier and to stop eating so much processed food, I also don’t want to blow my budget.
And when looking at my budget, one of my major expenses is Groceries.
And as if I wasn’t already forking over enough money on groceries, now that we’re trying to get healthier, I’m expected to spend even more by buying only organic products, right?
What does organic even mean?
We’ve all been taught that buying organic foods is important. Buying organic can protect you and your family from any pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, toxins, antibiotics and other chemicals used during the growing practices.
But what does “organic” really mean?
Although what’s considered “organic” varies from country to country, it’s typically required that In order for a food to be considered organic, it must be produced without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), sewage sludge and ionizing radiation.
What does being classified as “organic” require?
Let’s look at a few of the requirements necessary for products to be considered “certified organic.”
In order for animal products to be classified as organic, the animals cannot take antibiotics or growth hormones, must be fed only organic feed, must spend time outdoors and must have enough space to live comfortably.
Multi-ingredient foods, such as packaged and jarred foods, must contain 95% organic ingredients.
But buying organic can be SO expensive.
Thankfully everything that you put into your cart doesn’t necessarily have to be organic.
There are foods that you should always buy “organic” and other foods you can save money on buying the other stuff.
And thankfully someone else has done this homework for you.
Each year the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization,..working with three organizations—the United States Department of Agriculture, the USDA’s Pesticide Testing Program, and the Food and Drug Administration…conducts tests to determine what are known as the “Clean Fifteen,” a list of the fifteen fruits and vegetables containing the least traces of pesticides, and the “Dirty Dozen,” a list of the twelve fruits and vegetables contain the most. These tests are known as the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.
Let’s Go Shopping
Now that we know…thank goodness…that buying organic is not required all across the board…and that someone else has already compiled this list for you, let’s take a look at which items you absolutely should be buying organic and which items you can get by without going organic…so that you can prioritize your shopping and still have the peace of mind that you’re limiting your family’s pesticide exposure…. hopefully saving us all some green when buying our greens.
When shopping for grapes, there are three questions that you should ask yourself…
- 1. Are the grapes organic?
- 2. Are the grapes fully ripe? How can I tell?
- 3. What color are the grapes? What’s the difference?
1. Are the grapes organic?
One of my goals in adopting a healthier lifestyle and learning how to take care of my newly-diagnosed type 2 diabetic husband is has been to stop eating so much processed foods…
I am slowly realizing that paying the little bit more for organic produce is almost like paying for a more premium grade of gas whenever at the gas pump…you may not be able to tell the difference now…but once the differences start showing up, oh my, my!!!
Buying organic foods lessen your likelihood of exposure to contaminants—such as pesticides and heavy metals.
When shopping for produce and other products that are organic, look for the USDA organic logo.
2. Are the grapes fully ripe? How can I tell?
Fully ripened grapes taste the best and have the highest concentration of antioxidants. You can tell if grapes are fully ripe or not by checking to see if the grapes are…
- firmly attached to a healthy looking stem
- free from wrinkles
- not leaking juice
3. What color are the grapes? What’s the difference?
The color of the grape is important for two reasons—first of all, the taste…and then, the antioxidant content.
As far as taste,
- blue-black grapes are the least sweet…these grapes should be deep and rich in color
- green grapes are medium sweet…look for green grapes that have a slight yellowish hue
- red grapes are very sweet…these grapes should be mostly red
- As far as antioxidants, choose red grapes.
Be sure that the area around the attachment is the same color as the rest of the grape.
Like all other fruits, grapes contain several beneficial nutrients—such as fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
For example, one cup of grapes provides more than a fourth of the RDI for vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin vital for blood clotting and healthy bones…as well as vitamin C, necessary for bone and connective tissue health.
Another nutrient that you find in grapes are polyphenols, the antioxidants that give grapes and certain other plants their vibrant colors and give added protection against disease and environmental damage.
Below are some of the ways in which the nutrients in grapes may boost your health.
But before we get started, let’s look at the nutritional value of one cup of grapes…
- Calories: 104
- Carbs: 27.3 grams
- Copper: 10% of the RDI
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Fiber: 1.4 grams
- Manganese: 5% of the RDI
- Potassium: 8% of the RDI
- Protein: 1.1 grams
- Riboflavin: 6% of the RDI
- Thiamine: 7% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 6% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 27% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin K: 28% of the RDI
Eating grapes boosts your immune system and protect you from certain diseases—such as the flu, chicken pox and yeast infections—because grapes contain “stuff” that helps fight against harmful bacteria and viral infections.
For example, grapes are a good source of the vitamin C that most of us already know is great for your immune system..
Grapes contain hundreds of antioxidants such as vitamin C, manganese, beta-carotene, melatonin, resveratrol, quercetin, lutein, lycopene and ellagic acid.
These antioxidants are primarily found in the seed and the skin of the grape…and have been shown to do such great things as…
- helping protect cell membranes from free radical damage
- increasing our blood levels of glutathione, a critical antioxidant
- increasing the ratio of reduced-to-oxidized glutathione
- lowering biomarkers of oxidative stress.
- lowering the levels of oxygen reactive molecules in our blood
- preventing certain oxygen-related enzymes—such as xanthine oxidase and catalase—from becoming overactive
- protecting against chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
- reducing oxidation of fat
- repairing the damage to your cells caused by free radicals, harmful molecules that cause the oxidative stress that can lead to several chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease
Red grapes, more specifically contain higher numbers of antioxidants because red grapes contain anthocyanins, the antioxidant that gives them their bright color.
Another important antioxidant found is grapes is resveratrol, another antioxidant, that protects against heart disease, lowers blood sugar and protects against the development of cancer.
Grapes have as a low glycemic index which means that it has great blood sugar benefits—such as helping to control your blood sugar balance, insulin regulation, and insulin sensitivity.
In addition, one cup of grapes contains 288mg of potassium, 6% of the RDI, which is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels and preventing your risk of having high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
Potassium also help reduce the negative effects of having too much sodium in your diet.
If you’re considering adding grapes to your diet in order to improve your blood pressure, it’s probably best to choose either Concord or red grapes because their rich color indicates that they contain many flavonoids, such as resveratrol, which help lower your blood pressure, improve the fluidity of the blood, and relax the arterial walls.
Grapes contain many nutrients necessary for maintaining bone health—including calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, vitamin K, and vitamin C. In fact, one cup of grapes contains over 25% RDI for vitamins C and K.
Vitamin K is important because it increases the effectiveness of osteocalcin, a protein involved in bone mineralization, and promotes healthy calcium balance. One study shows that women who consume at least 110mg vitamin K each day are 30% less likely to break a bone than women who consume a lesser amount.
Copper found in grapes is essential for enzymes involved in the synthesis of bone components.
The true purpose of this blog is to slowly crawl our way up the Raw Foods Pyamid so that we can make important changes in our lifestyle and to learn how to cope with the Southern man’s rite of passage—type 2 diabetes.
Actually right now, before my ADHD self keeps going off one tangents, we are talking about antioxidants,
Now let’s talk about another food that can help you get the antioxidantsw that you need—–
Grapes range the gamut from those with seeds and those without…the color spectrum from red, green, black, yellow, pink, and dark purple,…table grapes and wine grapes…and are concocted into such products such as juice, jam, jelly, wine, raisins, currants, and sultanas.
The perfect grapes are perfectly juicy and sweet, goodness….low in calorie…virtually fat-free…and full of essential nutrients and antioxidants to keep you kicking.
So in the next post we will be looking at the health benefits of adding grapes to your diet…join me over a glass of wine…shall we?!