Summers are great for getting new seasonal produce. I get really excited about all the new fruits that come into season and go on sale. Recently, my husband and I went to Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek to pick peaches. We ended up with about 5 pounds for $2 a pound. I planned on freezing some for summer smoothies and a healthy cobbler. We ended up eating all of the fruit instead.
One of the biggest questions I asked before we started to pick the fruit was, “Do you use pesticides?” I know that peaches have a soft skin and can absorb pesticides easily into the fruit. I also know that peaches ends up on the “dirty dozen” list quit often (check out this list by going to www.ewg.org/foodnews/summery/). The dirty dozen will have a list of the top 12 fruits and vegetables that register with the most pesticide residue. This list is updated every year. These peaches happened to be pesticide free so I felt comfortable eating them. It is very important these days that we understand where our food comes from. Pesticides are just one of the many things consumers need to be aware of when shopping for groceries.
Every year I do a class called the “Grocery Store Tour.” I take my patients, there family and friends to the local Trader Joe’s and educate them about our modern day food choices. I go down aisle by aisle educating them on the what to look at in the area of produce, meat, dairy and eggs. I always first address the importance of going organic.
There are a few things to understand about organic. First, is the soil that our produce is grown in. Conventional farming can deplete nutrients from the soil. Plants also suffer from the chemical fertilizers used. Then there is crop rotation that is necessary for healthy soil. Many farmers grow one type of crop. Understand that if you are eating conventional produce you may not be getting the full benefits of nutrition from that produce.
The second and most obvious reason to go organic is pesticides. Pesticides are chemicals or toxins which will act as free radicals to damage our cells. Toxins are linked to a wide variety of diseases. Both studies and media have suggested that those who are interested in getting pregnant, who are pregnant, children and the elderly stay clear from pesticides. This is because these groups are more sensitive to chemicals. Despite if you qualify in these groups or not these chemicals affect everyone.
The other thing to consider when purchasing produce is genetically modified. Studies are showing that these types of foods are toxic to the body and can easily cause food allergies. There is an increase use of pesticides for GMO produce and not enough research has been done on these foods. The absolute worse thing is that the DNA of this produce contains both herbicide and insecticide absorbing genes. Corn, soy and canola are the top three genetically modified produce. A lot of these products are being used our processed foods. True organic foods contain no GMO.
When you go to the grocery store check out the stickers on your fruits and veggies. If the five-digit number starts with 9 it is organic. If the four-digit number starts with 4 it is conventional. The five-digit number that begins with 8 is GMO.
The last two things to be aware of at the grocery store is our meat and dairy. Hormones and antibiotics are used regularly in raising animals for food. Growth hormones cause hormonal imbalances. Children are extremely susceptible with early puberty symptoms. These symptoms even affect small babies. Hormonal imbalances contribute to fertility issues, weight gain, depression and fatigue, to name a few. Ask questions when purchasing your meat at the grocery store. Many things are now labeled Rbst (growth hormone) free. That makes me feel more comfortable in buying it when it shows that label. Also consider that some red meat contains LFTB (aka “pink slime“), which has ammonia in it. Antibiotics in meat simply imbalance digestion and can lead to a variety of immune disorders.
A lot of you may think that buying organic is impossible on a strict grocery budget. The answer I give anyone is that when it comes to your health you can’t afford not to consider organic. Shop sales and stock up on items like meat. Going to farmers markets or co-ops like Bountiful Baskets or Boxed Greens can also help to save money on your organic groceries.
Consider organic and see how it tastes and makes you feel. It will make a huge difference in your health and well being.
• Dawn Krueger-Sherin is an oriental medical practitioner in Ahwatukee Foothills. For questions, reach her at www.acupointehealing.com.