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13 Ways to Get More Out of Your Expensive Organic Produce

13 Ways to Get More Out of Your Expensive Organic Produce

Here's how to reduce your food waste and use every stalk, stem, seed, and leaf.

Locally-grown, ripe, almost-ripe, organic, ugly, on sale—no matter what qualities you’re looking for in produce, most of us have pretty high standards. This seems completely rational, since this purchase affects our health and bank account. But what doesn’t make sense is that food waste statistics suggest we throw away 50 percent of produce purchased!

While spoilage can play a factor, a large portion of discarded produce is trimmed stalks, seeds, rinds, peels and leaves. What most don’t know is that these parts are usually edible, nutrient-packed and delicious when prepared correctly. Since figuring out ways to “upcycle” these trimmings is new for many, here are a few easy ways to get more out of your produce from root to stem.

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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New Year. New Food. Healthy eating starts here, with the Cooking Light Diet.

Citrus Peels

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Zest or shave lemon, lime or orange peel; then freeze for when you need a fresh flavor burst in a recipe. Our candy citrus peel can be used as edible decor on cupcakes or to dip in dark chocolate for a quick treat.

Broccoli Stalks and Leaves

Sure the leftover stalk is a little tough, but it’s still got potential and is packed full of the same nutrients as the florets. Thinly slice or shave the stalk, and then use raw in a salad or roast. Both Roasted Veggie Stalk Salad and Shaved Broccoli Stalk Salad with Lime use the stalk, not the florets.

Strawberry Tops

Don’t throw away those little green leaves. Toss the top into smoothies and blend, just like you add might add kale, spinach, or other greens. Another idea: infuse water or tea with strawberry flavor by tossing in the tops.

Carrot and Radish Tops

Use carrot or radish tops as a substitute for (or in addition to) basil, and make a great pesto. Here’s a variation for Carrot Top Pesto that you can serve as featured as a dollop in soup or toss with pasta or veggie spirals.

Apple Peel

The peel (and just under the peel) is where you find a concentration of nutrients. Rather than discard them, toss peels with a little cinnamon sugar. Then, bake like apple chips for a healthy snack.

Over-Plucked Herb Stems

Even if you’ve used the leaves, the bare stems of thyme, cilantro, or other fresh herb are still packed full of the same flavor you loved in the leaves. Toss those still-green stems in a tomato sauce, stew or soup. Simmer to get all the herb’s aromatics, and then discard stems before serving.

Potato Peels

Prepare crispy, lower-carb chips with leftover potato peels. Toss just-trimmed peels with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 400 degrees on a foil-covered sheet pan for 18 minutes or until tender and slightly crispy on edges. Sprinkle with Parmesan and fresh herbs before serving or just dip in ketchup.

Ginger

It’s gnarled, knotty exterior makes it hard to gauge how much ginger root to buy when needing only a few teaspoons. When you end up with leftover root, place the ginger root in a cup of water. Roots should start growing, and you can then transfer to a pot or garden.

Pulp from Juicer

Nothing beats fresh-squeezed juice—except maybe finding a delicious way to use up the nutrient-rich pulp that is left over. Stir extra pulp into Greek or non-dairy yogurt, and then top with a sprinkle of nuts or drizzle of honey or maple syrup. Not your kind of snack? Instead, freeze pulp in small ice cube trays to toss in smoothies for an icy fruit addition.

Beet Greens

Photo: utah778/Getty Images

Bright red roots make it easy to overlook greens on top, but when compared ounce-per-ounce, beet greens provide not only more fiber and protein, but more than twice as much iron and potassium and almost eight times the calcium than the roots. Use them like other leafy greens - tossed in salads or a smoothie like Berry-and-Beet Green Smoothie or sauteed like in Beet Greens with Oregano and Feta.

Watermelon Seeds and Rind

We regularly toast pepitas to toss on salads and bowls, so why not watermelon seeds? Follow directions for toasted pumpkin seeds. You can also pack watermelon rind in a vinegar-spice solution and make Pickled Watermelon Rind.

Leftover Leafy Greens

Not sure how to use all the spinach, arugula or kale up before it starts getting a little slimy? Make pesto! Although pesto is traditionally made with basil, leafy greens can easily be substituted. Our spinach pesto is a gorgeous twist on the original, while our arugula version adds a peppery bite.

Celery Leaves

We’re often focus on dicing the long ribs in celery, but the leaves on top can add crisp bite to salad mixes like in Spinach and Celery Leaf Salad with Grainy Mustard Vinaigrette. Leftover celery parts also add freshness and bulk when processed in smoothies.


11 Quick and Easy Ways to Save on Produce

So, you are saving money on your grocery shopping but you are wondering how to save on produce. We get that question quite a bit. And, truth be told, saving money on produce is easier than you think.

Don’t let the fact that there are not as many produce coupons make you think there are no savings. The fact is, saving money on groceries is not ALWAYS about using coupons. While coupons help, there are so many ways to save.

So, without further ado, here are our top 11 Quick and Easy Ways to Save on Produce


12 Tips for Cooking Grass-fed Beef

Tip #1 – Use a Marinade: Very lean cuts like New York strips and sirloin steaks can benefit from a marinade. Choose a recipe that doesn’t mask the flavor of the beef, but will enhance the moisture content. For safe handling, always marinate in the refrigerator.

Tip #2 – Add Fat: Because grass-fed beef is typically lower in fat than conventional meat, you can coat it with fat such as grass-fed/pasture-raised butter, tallow, lard or duck fat for easy browning. The fat will also prevent the meat from drying out and sticking to the cooking surface.

Tip #3 – Thawing: Never use a microwave to thaw grass-fed beef. Either thaw in the refrigerator, or for quick thawing place the vacuum sealed package in cold water for a few minutes.

One pound of ground beef takes about 24 hours to thaw in the refrigerator, and a 3 or 4-pound package may take up to 48 hours to defrost in the refrigerator.

Tip #4 – Cooks Faster: Grass-fed beef cooks about 30% faster than grain-fed beef. Use a thermometer to test for doneness and watch the temperature carefully. You can go from perfectly cooked to overdone in less than a minute.

The meat will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat, so when it reaches a temperature ten degrees lower than the desired temperature, it’s done.

Tip #5 – Cook to Medium-Rare: Grass-fed beef is ideal at rare to medium-rare temperatures. If you prefer your meat well-done, cook it at a low temperature in a sauce to add moisture. A slow cooker is great for this.

Tip #6 – Pan Searing: Pan Searing on the stove is an easy way to cook a grass-fed steak. After you’ve seared the steak over high heat, turn the heat to low and add grass-fed butter and garlic to the pan to finish cooking.

Tip #7 – Grilling: When grilling, quickly sear the meat over high heat on each side and then reduce the heat to medium or low to finish. Baste to add moisture.

Use tongs instead of a fork to turn the beef. When grilling burgers, use caramelized onions or roasted peppers to add moisture to the meat.

Tip #8 – Roasting: When roasting, sear the beef first to lock in the juices and then place in a preheated oven. Reduce the roasting temperature by 50 degrees F for grass-fed beef.

Tip #9 – Tenderizing: Tenderizing breaks down tough connective tissue. You can tenderize your meat with a tenderizer like the Jaccard, which is a small, hand-held device with little “needles” that pierce the meat allowing the marinade or rub to penetrate the surface.

Alternatively, after coating your thawed grass-fed steak with a rub, put it in a zip-top bag, place on a solid surface, and use a meat mallet, rolling pin or other hard object to pound it a few times. This will not only tenderize the meat, but will also incorporate the rub, adding flavor.

Don’t go overboard and flatten the beef, unless the recipe calls for it.

Tip #10 – Bring to Room Temperature & Preheat: Bring your grass-fed beef to room temperature before cooking to avoid overcooking the outside. And always preheat the oven, pan or grill before cooking.

Tip #11 – Let Rest: Let the beef sit covered in a warm place for 8 to 10 minutes after removing it from the heat to let the juices redistribute.

Tip #12 – Storing Beef in the Refrigerator: Raw ground beef will keep in the refrigerator for about 1 to 2 days Raw roasts and steaks will stay good in the refrigerator for about 3 to 5 days Cooked meat will stay good in the refrigerator for about 3 to 4 days.


Should I Feed My Baby Organic Food?

So what do we make of all this information? Here’s the bottom line, as we see it: to help your baby stay as healthy as possible, feed her plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Period. Organic produce may be slightly healthier, so if you can afford the price, go for it! But if buying organic is simply out of your budget’s reach, don’t lose a moment of sleep over it.

What if you can’t afford to switch entirely to organic but are still concerned about pesticide and chemical exposure? Researchers recommend focusing on the “dirty dozen”: these are 12 fruits and vegetables that tend to have the highest levels of pesticides. When it comes to these fruits and veggies, buy organic then, buy non-organic varieties of everything else. This’ll help maximize your food budget while minimizing your baby’s exposure to pesticides.


10 reasons organic food is so expensive

You might think organic food would cost less than conventional food since the production is spared the cost of the chemicals, synthetic pesticides, and antibiotics. Yet organic products typically cost 20 percent to 100 percent more than their conventionally produced equivalents.

In an economy that is sluggishly recovering from a recession, that’s a price tag many Americans can’t afford, even though the majority of them would prefer to buy organic. If you’re part of that majority, you’ve probably wondered what’s behind that cost. Here are the top 10 factors contributing to the high price of organic food:

1. No chemicals = more labor

Conventional farmers use all of those chemicals and synthetic pesticides because they end up reducing the cost of production by getting the job done faster and more efficiently. Without them, organic farmers have to hire more workers for tasks like hand-weeding, cleanup of polluted water, and the remediation of pesticide contamination.

The Organic Farming Research Foundation explained it well: "The organic price tag more closely reflects the true cost of growing the food: substituting labor and intensive management for chemicals, the health and environmental costs of which are borne by society."

2. Demand overwhelms supply

Retail sales of organic food rose from $3.6 billion in 1997 to $21.1 billion in 2008, according to the USDA, and 58 percent of Americans claim they prefer to eat organic over non-organic food. However, organic farmland only accounts for 0.9 percent of total worldwide farmland, and organic farms tend to produce less than conventional farms. Conventional farms have the farmland and the supply to keep costs down since manufacturers are able to reduce costs when producing a product in larger quantities.

3. Higher cost of fertilizer for organic crops

Sewage sludge and chemical fertilizers might not be something you want in your food, but conventional farmers use them because they don’t cost much and are cheap to transport. Organic farmers eschew these inexpensive solutions in order to keep their crops natural and instead use compost and animal manure, which is more expensive to ship.

Instead of using chemical weed-killers, organic farmers conduct sophisticated crop rotations to keep their soil healthy and prevent weed growth. After harvesting a crop, an organic farmer may use that area to grow "cover crops," which add nitrogen to the soil to benefit succeeding crops.

Conventional farmers, on the other hand, can use every acre to grow the most profitable crops. Because crop rotation reduces the frequency in which organic farmers can grow profitable crops, they’re unable to produce the larger quantities that are most cost-effective for conventional farmers.

5. Post-harvest handling cost

In order to avoid cross-contamination, organic produce must be separated from conventional produce after being harvested. Conventional crops are shipped in larger quantities since conventional farms are able to produce more. Organic crops, however, are handled and shipped in smaller quantities since organic farms tend to produce less, and this results in higher costs. Additionally, organic farms are usually located farther from major cities, increasing the shipping cost.

6. Organic certification

Acquiring USDA organic certification is no easy — or cheap — task. In addition to the usual farming operations, farm facilities and production methods must comply with certain standards, which may require the modification of facilities. Employees must be hired to maintain strict daily record-keeping that must be available for inspection at any time. And organic farms must pay an annual inspection/certification fee, which starts at $400 to $2,000 a year, depending on the agency and the size of the operation.

7. Cost of covering higher loss

Conventional farmers use certain chemicals to reduce their loss of crops. For example, synthetic pesticides repel insects and antibiotics maintain the health of the livestock. Since organic farmers don’t use these, their losses are higher, which costs the farmer more and increases the cost to the consumer. Additionally, without all the chemical preservatives added to conventional foods, organic foods face a shorter storage time and shelf life.

8. Better living conditions for livestock

Higher standards for animal welfare also means more costs for organic farms. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, organic feed for cattle and other livestock can cost twice as much as conventional feed.

9. Organic food grows more slowly

Time is money. Not only are organic farms typically smaller than conventional ones, but they also, on average, take more time to produce crops because they refrain from using the chemicals and growth hormones used by conventional farmers.

Production-oriented government subsidies reduce the overall cost of crops. In 2008, mandatory spending on farm subsidies was $7.5 billion while programs for organic and local foods only received $15 million, according to the House Appropriations Committee.

Until then, try to get most of your organic food from farmers markets. You’ll be supporting local farmers and purchasing the food at a reduced price since you’re cutting out the middle-man retailer. Check out LocalHarvest.org. You can plug in your city or zip code and get a list of all of the farmers markets in your area.

It’s also important to note that you don’t need to buy all foods organic. The Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides has a "Clean 15" list of the 15 types of produce lowest in pesticides. Save your money for the other organic produce and buy the conventional versions of these:

1.Onions
2.Sweet corn
3.Pineapples
4.Avocado
5.Asparagus
6.Sweet peas
7.Mangoes
8.Eggplant
9.Cantaloupe — domestic
10.Kiwi
11.Cabbage
12.Watermelon
13.Sweet potatoes
14.Grapefruit
15.Mushrooms


This Dietician Answers 8 Of Our Most Frequently Asked Healthy-Eating Questions

Diet books, podcasts and social media accounts might have you believe that being healthy is hard work. You need to eat the latest superfood, take expensive probiotic shots and drink warm water with lemon every single morning. But the key to a healthy, balanced diet doesn&rsquot have to be complicated.

We spoke to specialist registered dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine to find out how simple everyday tweaks can improve our eating habits. So if you&rsquove been leaning on comfort food during lockdown, here are her expert tips for how to get back on track.

1.How can we 'Healthify&rsquo our kitchen?

&lsquoMake the healthy choice the easy choice. Always have your fruit bowl stacked in the kitchen have a blender in view, not the biscuit tin rearrange your cereals so that the healthy ones are at the front and keep a portion scoop in your rice, pasta and your oats.

&lsquoBecause of the demands of everyday life, healthy eating needs to require minimal effort. If you open the fridge and see a whole bag of carrots that requires cutting and peeling, it&rsquos easier to just reach for the biscuits. But if at eye level you&rsquove got your crudités and dips, chopped-up fruit salad and yoghurt, you&rsquore more likely to eat them.&rsquo

2. Do you use a formula when you&rsquore cooking to make sure you tick off all the food groups?

&lsquoI live by the 80:20 rule, where I eat 80% healthy, nutrient-dense foods, then eat foods purely for enjoyment for 20% of the time. Having a couple of biscuits with your coffee isn&rsquot bad however, if you&rsquore having a packet of biscuits in the afternoon because you&rsquove skipped lunch, that&rsquos not going to make you feel good in the long term. So focus on keeping yourself hydrated, eating more plant-based foods and balanced meals, and nourishing yourself. Then the odd treat is fine to enjoy every now and again but just keep mindful of portions and frequency.&rsquo

3. Is it important to buy &lsquoorganic&rsquo produce?

&lsquoIf you can afford to buy organic, that&rsquos great, but really all that matters is that you&rsquove got fruit and vegetables in your shopping basket. You can save some money on basics like pasta and rice (try to go wholegrain as it has a low GI, so releases energy slowly), and by buying own-brand tins of pulses or chopped tomatoes. Then you&rsquoll be more likely to spend that extra money on leaner cuts of meat and a wider variety of fruits and veg.&rsquo

4. We all know we&rsquore supposed to eat our 5-a-day &ndash what tips do you have to incorporate more fruit and veg into our daily diets?

&lsquoKeep a stash of frozen veg. Frozen fruit and veg often contain more nutrients, including vitamin C, than when they&rsquore fresh. That&rsquos because they&rsquore frozen at the peak of picking &ndash as they get older, they start to lose their nutrients. So always keep some in the freezer.&rsquo

5. How much water should we really be drinking?

&lsquoThe NHS advises drinking a minimum of six to eight glasses of fluid every day &ndash and tea and coffee counts. From a caffeine point of view, just keep it to four to five cups a day, and try and drink them before 3pm, or it might affect your sleep.

&lsquoIf you exercise, or if it&rsquos warm outside, you need to drink more fluids because you&rsquoll sweat. The easiest way to tell if you&rsquore drinking enough is if you&rsquore going to the toilet a few times a day and it&rsquos a pale straw colour.&rsquo

6. What&rsquos a simple trick for cutting down on sugar?

&lsquoIf you find yourself munching on packs of sweets every evening, you could swap them for frozen grapes. Rinse grapes in water, sprinkle on sugar-free jelly crystals, then freeze them &ndash it&rsquos just like eating hard-boiled sweets.

&lsquoIt&rsquos also about portion control. For example, one of my patients portions out her chocolate into a ramekin, so she knows her allowance. Another tip is to never eat straight out of a family sharing bag &ndash always put it out in a bowl. And if you find yourself mindlessly eating chocolates or sweets at home or in the office, try to keep the wrappers next to you so you can keep an eye on how many you've eaten.&rsquo

7. Can the way we present our food help us to make healthier choices?

&lsquoWe eat with our eyes. If food is presented in a way that makes it look good, you&rsquore more likely to eat more of it. You don&rsquot need to make every meal Instagrammable, but spending a little time prepping veggies so they&rsquore more enticing to eat definitely helps. Chewing your food really matters too &ndash if you take your time eating rather than just wolfing it down, you&rsquoll really appreciate it. It also means that you&rsquoll be better in tune with your hunger and satiety levels. &rsquo

8. What about supplements?

&lsquoI take a multivitamin every day, so I know I have some additional nutritional support if I haven't managed to eat enough fruit and vegetables. It&rsquos not a replacement for a balanced diet, but it offers support.

&lsquoI recommend that people take a multivitamin with vitamin D. This is especially important if you don't get enough through your diet (oily fish, eggs and fortified foods) and in the winter months because the sun is not strong enough for your body to make vitamin D.

&lsquoCentrum Women and Centrum Women 50+ come from the world's No.1 brand of multivitamin* and includes essential vitamins and minerals, such as biotin, zinc and selenium. These supplements are also high in vitamin D.&rsquo


The 6 best ways to save money on your groceries

Real food exists in every single store, and there are some secret tricks to know that can help you maximize your money and feed everyone in your family beautifully.

1. Stock your pantry with real-food basics.

This saves soo much time, because most of the items (if chosen well) can be made into 5 to 7 different dishes. It cuts down on store trips, you can save money by buying these things in bulk (or when there’s a sale), and it helps you get creative with what you’ve got.

Think things like: olive oil, beans, chicken broth, nuts, seeds, pasta, lentils, canned tomatoes (for a homemade tomato sauce for pasta or veggies, tomato-based soups & chilis, or to go with meatballs), quinoa & rice. From breakfast bowls to a quick bed for those frozen veggies & butter on a busy night, rice and quinoa are the ultimate easy pantry staple.

Even if it’s loose. I’m gonna say this again, for the people in the back: Do NOTbuy anything that you don’t have a specific plan for (outside of basics that you know you do use every week).

If you don’t have time to write a full grocery list, go with an outline. Something like: I know I need food for 2-3 dinners, 3 lunches, and 6 breakfasts this week. What veggies, protein, and pantry items will help you get there? Are there any ingredients that can be used in multiple ways and meals? Aka, spinach could work in a scramble, in a green smoothie for lunch or as salad base at night.

I see this so much with produce— people go in with the best of intentions for the week to cook every night at home and pick up 12 different veggies… and it just doesn’t happen because the veggies were random instead of a planned part of a meal. Often LESS is more in terms of veggies. Pick 3 to 5 that are in season and you know can be used in many ways and multiple meals.

If you need help planning your meals better, even if it’s just 2 or 3 of them each week, the #cookingclub was created for you ! You can sort recipes based on ingredients you already have in your fridge, specific ones for the season, any sensitivities or allergies, type of dish, AND adjust serving sizes so you’re only buying what you need, AND it auto-generates a shopping list for you to double save you time.

3. Get into making a few freezer meals each month (or season).

This enables you to capitalize on organic meat going on sale, again…. *IF* you have a SPECIFIC plan for it. There’s nothing wrong with buying meat and freezing it straight up— IF you’ll actually defrost it and use it later.

But I’ll be honest—– I’m not the best with that. But I can get behind prepping a few freezer meals for later (aka, taking 30 minutes and assembling 4 to 6 uncooked meals in freezer bags and storing them away).

It’s usually used for crockpot & instantpot meals, but I’ve been going hard on creating lots of freezer to GRILL recipes for the #cookingclub for the summer months and I gotta say— it feels SO good. You save money but also SO MUCH TIME assembling it all at once. Then you have 6 meals ready to defrost any morning you want, and you can quickly throw it all on the grill. One time prepping and one time cleaning for them all.

Or, any kinds of soups, stews, chilis, or big casserole dish meals (like lasagna or enchiladas) that you make are GREAT options to double and freeze half of. If you’re already making one batch, might as well double up your ingredients and make two to save yourself time and grocery money for a meal or two in the future.

4. Join the instantpot club to turn humble basics into amazing dishes!

Truly, it is WORTH IT (and actually does save us money by making healthy dinners so simple & fast). If you have a instantpot already, you probs know how it can immediately prepare very inexpensive food that’s sometimes a pain to cook (dried beans, lentils, cheaper cuts of meat), in a short amount of time.

Buying some dried beans from a bulk section (to make hummus, soups, or cooked for deli style salads) is the perfect example. They cost pennies and are full of great protein & fiber. Or things like beets (fill instantpot with 1 cup water and place beets on trivet), or an organic whole chicken you can eat for the whole week— without spending an hour hovering over the oven.

(Bonus points for that in the summer especially. We don’t need to heat the whole house up with the oven when it’s 85+ degrees out.)

5. Check out your local CSA or farmer’s market boxes.

When you eat foods that are in season, oftentimes they are so much cheaper and coming off the truck like crazy at that time. Check around to see if you have a local CSA (i.e., community supported agriculture) or hit up your farmer’s market to see what you can find.

They will often provide locally grown, in-season produce (often organic, too) for less than the stores charge (because there’s no middle man between farmer & consumer). And, you’re supporting local farmers! Such a win for so many reasons.

The same can be true at the stores in terms of seasonal produce being cheaper, too. When you go to the store, think ahead and see what’s in season so you can plan some meals around the seasonal fruit & veggies that are on sale (instead of always buying bananas, apples, and broccoli each week). It keeps it fresh for your body too and keeps it fun around your table by trying different things throughout the year.

6. Supplement with more affordable resources.

I love using places like Thrive Market (they send it all right to your door and it’s all fully vetted companies and food brands you know you can trust) , Costco and Trader Joe’s (if you’re willing to do some ingredient label hunting around, they do have some good stuff!). They ALL have organic and real-food staples at wholesale prices that are amazing for basics like organic peanut butter, nuts, grass-fed butter, pantry staples, and some produce, too.


These are ok to buy conventional (not organic) – Updated 2020 2021 list coming later this year:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn*
  3. Pineapple
  4. Onions
  5. Papaya
  6. Sweet peas (frozen)
  7. Eggplants
  8. Asparagus
  9. Cauliflower
  10. Cantaloupe
  11. Broccoli
  12. Mushrooms
  13. Cabbage
  14. Honeydew melon
  15. Kiwi

* Per the EWG, a small amount of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash sold in the United States is produced from Genetically Engineered (GE) seed stock. Buy organic varieties of these crops if you want to avoid Genetically Engineered produce. I personally buy these organic.


12 Foods to Always Buy Organic (Plus 15 That Are OK Conventionally Grown)

Going organic poses a dilemma. On one hand, buying organic produce is a smart way to avoid pesticides. According to a study reported on in The New York Times, people who "ate more organic produce, dairy, meat and other products had 25 percent fewer cancer diagnoses over all, especially lymphoma and breast cancer." Organic brings peace of mind.

But then, organic foods are more expensive than conventionally grown — 47% more, on average, according to Consumer Reports. Pricey organics can quickly blow up the food budget. So much for that peace of mind.

It&aposs reassuring then to know that some conventionally grown produce carries far less pesticide residue than others. Among the conventionally grown produce with the very lowest levels of pesticides are fruits and veggies that are "unwrapped" before being eaten. Think avocados, onions, pineapples, and sweet corn.

The bottom line is that you really can have it both ways. Buy organic fruits and vegetables that run the highest pesticide risk. And go conventional with those that are on the low-residue list. and save a little green.

Here are both lists — the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean Fifteen" — with links to loads of top-rated recipes.


Need More Baby Steps?

Here at Kitchen Stewardship ® , we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.

That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.

Sign up to get weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.

About Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship®

Katie Kimball, CSME is a trusted educator and author of 8 real food cookbooks. She is passionate about researching natural remedies and making healthy cooking easier for busy families. She’s been featured on media outlets like ABC, NBC and First for Women magazine as well as contributing regularly on the FOX Network.

Over the last 10 years, Katie has spoken prolifically at conferences, online summits and podcasts and become a trusted authority and advocate for children’s health.

Busy moms look to this certified educator for honest, in-depth natural product reviews and thorough research. She often partners with health experts and medical practitioners to deliver the most current information to the Kitchen Stewardship ® community.

In 2016 she created the #1 bestselling online kids cooking course, Kids Cook Real Food, helping thousands of families around the world learn to cook.

A mom of 4 kids from Michigan, she is a Certified Stress Mastery Educator and member of the American Institute of Stress.

13 Bites of Conversation So Far

Consumer Reports has an even better list. EWG only considers the number of pesticides, but Consumer Reports analyzed the amounts of pesticides and the health effects. They also note when some countries of origin are better than others. Unfortunately, I can’t find the chart I downloaded when the report was first published. But I would be happy to email it to you if you’d like to post it on your site.
https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/health/natural-health/pesticides/index.htm

Thanks again for this reminder! I do what I can when it comes to organic. One of our saving graces is buying our produce in bulk through Azure Standard—the once a month food co-op. I get organic potatoes, apples, pears, and oranges (no spray) ona regular basis. Many of their other products are either organic or use less chemicals, and they will usually tell what in the product description. It’s also where I buy my raw cheddar at an affordable price!

Are these lists considering frozen foods also? I buy frozen strawberries – usually eat them every day.

Laura Snell @ Kitchen Stewardship says

Yes! These lists apply to frozen, fresh, canned, you name it. For something eaten every day, I would consider it especially important to buy organic if it’s on the dirty dozen list.

I love that you commented on the local not organic stuff…my uncle is a farmer/rancher and lots of independent farmers practice most organic practices, but it’s really, really expensive to certify. That is one reason I LOVE the farmer’s market. And why I love my FILs fruit trees…he doesn’t spray because he’s lazy (and it rarely works)…which means free organic fruit for me!

I have heard that soaking produce in vinegar & water strips the cancer causing chemicals. Has anyone else heard that? I do this with just about everything.

Becca,
I tested out a bunch of produce washes here, and vinegar was one of them. Stripping cancerous chemicals sounds…almost too good to be true, I don’t know. ?? Katie

I read on someone elses WFMW that you could wash your produce with baking soda.

Yes, it’s on my to-do list to test out some homemade (and read about/test storebought) produce washes, but apparently they can still only do so much with the Dirty Dozen. Many of the foods on the list are there partly because they are difficult to wash well. You can’t really scrub your strawberries! Thanks for the comment!

Consumer Reports determined that produce washes are no more effective then water and scrubbing.

Great post – and I’m excited to hear about your produce wash reporting!

I have really enjoyed your series on superfoods. I just recently read SuperFoods RX and have been trying to adjust of eating lifestyle and making healthier decisions by buying whole wheat and eating alot more fruit and veggies.
I never buy organic except carrots because like you said they aren’t that much more expensive. You have inspired me to check out our huge local farmer’s market this Saturday and see what kind of selection of organics they have there.

I’m itching to get to our Farmer’s Market too. There’s something wholesome and healing about knowing your food was grown by local farmers, “real” people. I hope you have great luck! I like to find farmers who say “no spray” even though they haven’t paid the bucks to get certified organic. If you talk to them and agree that their methods are safe, they usually have less expensive produce than the certified organics.

Thanks for the comment I’m so glad to help!

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