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Organic: 12 Ways to Decrease Pesticides in Your Diet
Sunday, April 5th, 2009

Seedlings in Soil

“If you build up the soil with organic material, the plants will do just fine.”
–John Harrison

Can you smell the dirt?

I finally can and that is how I know Springtime is here.  The perennials are starting to push their way past last year’s dead flowers and sticks.  (I should have pruned them back).  But that is what I love about Spring.  No matter what you did or did not do…Spring still comes through.  It really is about new beginnings.

As the grass revives itself and delicate green shoots gingerly grow and eager little buds turn into blossoms, what is at work behind the scene is under-appreciated dirt.  Or should I call it by its proper name, Soil, with a capital S.  After all, it is the soil that nourishes not only the plants but also animals and us.

I was recently speaking with sustainable agriculture enthusiast Lynda Fanning, UVA’s Clinical Nutrition Manager.  Hearing her share the importance of where our food comes from and the implications it has on our health at this year’s Virginia Dietetic Association conference has motivated me to visit the Smithsonian’s Soil Exhibit (in DC until 2009 then touring 10 other cities in the US).

Going back to the roots where nutrients are absorbed is seeming like a key factor in diseases we may face later on in life.  Even the Senate has acknowledged the importance of our homeland soil.  Apparently, soil is finally getting some of the attention it deserves after we have degraded it at a global level.

I know that working towards getting more fruits and vegetables in one’s diet really can feel like enough effort.  If having to figure out what to buy –  organic, locally grown, or conventionally grown fruits and vegetables just makes your head spin and could possibly push you over the edge…

Then be assured that help is at hand to make sense of ways we can each personally improve our health and even be a bit Greener in the process.  To date there is a growing body of evidence that indicate consuming even small doses of pesticides can in fact harm your health.  It is considered useful to eat less of the “dirty dozen”, i.e., those 12 fruits and veggies that have the highest pesticide residue.

Consider buying these fruits and vegetables organic:  Peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, kale, lettuce, imported grapes, carrots and pearsEnvironmental Working Group’s research indicates that if you eat these 12 conventional produce (non-organic) then you are ingesting about 10 pesticides a day.  Click here to print your own shopper’s guide to pesticides (fruits and veggies with the most and the least pesticides).

What Organic Foods Do You Currently Buy?

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