Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Did You Eat Your Veggies Today?

I really enjoy the taste of vegetables, and I appreciate that they are good for me, too.  But, I like to ensure that I'm doing what is best for my body and I am not consuming or serving harmful chemicals.
Because of that, I choose to shop for organic produce.  And, to me, organically grown fruits and vegetables taste better.

But, organic produce not only avoids harmful pesticides or herbicides, they may also have more nutrients.  Recent research has shown that the conventional farming industry's desire to grow bigger vegetables more quickly by selective breeding and synthetic fertilizers can decrease produce's ability to synthesize nutrients or absorb them from the soil.  Without the use of synthetic fertilizers, organic farming creates more stress on plants.  This stress causes plants to protect themselves by producing more phytochemicals, like antioxidants.  This higher amount of phytochemicals benefits humans who eat them.
Trust me, I understand that sometimes you don't have a choice between organic or conventional produce or you can't afford the options.  I do buy conventional produce occasionally, and I remain cautious about pesticide consumption.  Luckily, the Environmental Working Group has created a handy shoppers' guide of the fruits and vegetables most likely to test positive for high levels of pesticide (the Dirty Dozen) and those least likely to test positive for pesticides (the Clean Fifteen). I downloaded an application for my IPhone that helps me keep track of what I should pursue as organically grown, or what is acceptable as conventionally grown.  So, I try and buy (or pick my own) organic options for at least produce from the "dirty dozen" list, but I'm willing to go the conventional route sometimes for the "clean fifteen" list.

The Dirty Dozen: peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, kale, lettuce, imported grapes, carrots, and pears.

The Clean Fifteen: onions, avocados, corn, pineapple, mangoes, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwifruits, cabbages, eggplants, papayas, watermelons, broccoli, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes.

Here's something you can do with your pesticide-free sweet peas...

Pecan Honey Butter Peas
Serves 4

16 oz package of frozen peas
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup pecans

Spread pecans on a baking sheet and toast in a 250 degree F oven until fragrant.  Cool and then chop.

Prepare peas according to package directions.  Drain well.

In a saucepan, melt butter.  Add honey, and chopped pecans.  

Combine well and add peas.

Quickly stir, remove from heat, and serve.

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