Local food advocates have long deplored the extraordinary steps that are taken by industrial food giants just to get those green beans to your plate. Massive industrial mono-culture production farming, because of the biological stresses it creates, requires intensive chemical applications. Some crops are more vulnerable than others, so naturally, some produce has a heavier chemical load than others. Other crop seed is actually chemical infused before it even goes into the ground. Typically these are all sorts of beans for canning. The seed labels bear a skull and crossbones and advise anyone handling the seed to wear what amounts to a HAZMAT suit, not to use it for feed or to process it for oil. (What’s wrong with this picture?)
In addition to the chemicals that the seed comes with, additional pesticides, herbicides, and petroleum based fertilizers are applied throughout the growing cycle of the crop. After harvesting, some crops are then irradiated (salad greens in particular) to kill E.coli and Salmonella and to preserve “freshness” for long distance transport and extended shelf life. For many large-scale conventional farmers, their chemical bill is their largest farm expense.
In addition to all the petroleum based chemicals used to produce the crop, more petroleum is used to get it to market; many times a lot more petroleum. This is why local food advocates often refer to modern farming as the conversion of petroleum to food. And quite literally, most consumers are actually eating at least a drop of petroleum every day without realizing it.
All of this creates somewhat of a dilemma for many people thinking of switching to a raw food diet. If the produce in the store is toxic, are they really any better off making that change? How can the every day consumer navigate the jungle of mass produced food and hope to come out of the store with good food in their carts? This quick guide may be of some help.
The Dirty Dozen
Unless they are organically grown (preferably locally), avoid these produce items:
- Sweet Bell Peppers
The Clean Fifteen
While buying organic is optimal, it’s not always affordable or available. These produce items require minimal chemical applications:
- Shelling Peas
- Sweet Corn
These lists only address chemical contaminates and do not address irradiation, which some studies suggest may cause cellular transmutations. Any fruit that is shipped from other countries, even if it is on the clean list will have been irradiated as are all salad greens, organic or not, unless you’re buying them directly from the grower.
This list also does not address GMO’s, which have been banned in Europe for public health and environmental reasons. Many studies have shown significant organ damage resulting from the consumption of GM (genetically modified) food. You can spot which produce items have been conventionally grown, organically grown, or GMO’d by the numerical code on the sticker. Here’s what those numbers mean:
- 4-digit number usually starting with 2, 3, or 4 is conventionally grown using whatever chemical applications are considered appropriate for that crop.
- 5-digit number starting with 8 is Genetically Modified and so far, cannot be considered organically grown.
- 5-digit number starting the 9 is organically grown, but may still be irradiated if it is grown out of country or if it is salad greens.
Going raw may seem like a lot of expense and effort, but it pays dividends in health that are priceless.