The Healthy Junk Chronicles: Junk Fruit

Well hello there true believers! :D

I know it’s been a while since I posted on this site but that really needs to change. Ish happens and that’s no excuse to keep forward with my goals of providing you with the best information on transitional foods and knowledge on the junk in a lot of “healthy” foods. I hope this post is a step forward in the right direction.

This summer was a healthy one – at least in regards to what I eat. ;) I ate a good amount of fruit and veggies. Salads were a great mainstay as well as chicken (which I remembered is a lighter meat, meant to be eaten in the summer. Thanks Michael Pollan) and vegan falafels (I’ll talk about that another time).

Looking back on my summer, I realized that a lot of the fruit I ate was from my local “fruit market” (smaller than a supermarket but bigger than a bodega..they usually have a bunch of fruit and veggies in the front of their stores). It was junk.

Produce in Cary, North Carolina store
Image via Wikipedia

Now I know you’re shaking your head right now saying, “What are you talking about? Fruit is real good for you and you call it “junk”? You can’t be serious. o_o But of course, I’m serious.

The junky thing about fruit is the pesticides that are sprayed on them before they are picked or even before they are shipped to your stores. Pesticides that can cause irreparable damage to the body, in the long term (there are more issues but I’ll stick with this one for now).

Being a holistic health counselor, I realize that it’s important to eat all things “organic” and “all natural.” However, my budget is not what it used to be so I ate what I could. This did not satisfy this gnawing thought that I was still messing up. Then one day, I was putting certain fruits in the refrigerator (as I usually do) and before I opened the refrigerator door, I noticed something. It was there all along and I didn’t realize this magnet until now. I finally understood what my problem was.

The magnet I have is the EWG‘s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. It gives you a list of 12 produce products to buy organic (because of their high pesticide content) and 12 produce products that have the lowest pesticide content. It looks like this:

Click on image to download the guide for yourself

Click on image to download the guide for yourself

The problem with me was that 4 of my favorite fruits are on the “Dirty Dozen” lists. I was buying these at my local stores – pesticide concentrate. I was buying what was called “Conventional Fruits.”

There are obvious answers to alleviate this issue. Why not buy these fruits at Whole Foods? This was the first question that came into my mind. Going into Whole Foods as much as I do, I realized the answer was not going to be as easy as I hoped.

Go to any Whole Foods in NYC. Go to their Produce section and look for the apples or pears or peaches that you like. More than likely, you’ll see a sign that says “Apples – CONVENTIONAL…” Yep, most of the fruits that are the highest in pesticides at Whole Foods are sold as “Conventional.” Sure, you might get some Organic Strawberries and Grapes every so often but they’re so expensive that the average person would raise up their hands and buy some McDonalds.

It truly doesn’t make sense to me that some of the fruits with the highest amount of pesticides are sold in stores like Whole Foods, a supermarket that markets itself as “organic” and “all natural.” I’m sure they have their reasons as to why they do this and I’m not going to try to fight them either. I just needed to figure out how to get my fruits at the lowest price possible and the best quality (and give you some pointers on how you can do it too).

Before I get into that with you, I want to tell you how you can figure out if a fruit is “conventional” or “organic” (at least by the USDA’s standards). Next time you go to the supermarket, look for a sticker on your fruit or vegetable. The sticker is labeled with numbers. Here is an excerpt of some good information from examiner.com:

The numbers, also known as the PLU code(price lookup number), tells you the following:

I’m going to leave it here for now (don’t you hate it when I do that? :p). Next time, I’m going to tell you how I resolved my dilemma – what to buy, where to buy good fruits and veggies and the differences between buying organic and conventional fruits and veggies (other than the obvious).

Until next time, if you’re gonna eat junk…you might as well eat Healthy Junk. (l)

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