Lowdown on the Dirty Dozen

I have insomnia. The type that causes me to lay awake for hours thinking and obsessing about all the horrible things that ever have happened to me, are currently happening, or what could happen if I were to go on vacation to the Amazon and fall off a small canoe while traveling down the Nile and there were hippos and leeches and piranhas and even worse, giant man-eating crocodiles, and one of them decided I looked tasty and I was frantically swimming swimming swimming trying to get away and I turn around and all I see in the murky water is a gaping pink maw coming at me AND THEN IT’S 2 A.M. AND I’M LAYING IN BED WITH MY HEART POUNDING AND I’M SWEATING AND GENERALLY NEVER GOING TO FALL ASLEEP EVER AGAIN. True story.

Freaking. Terrifying.

My point is, I do not have the talent that my husband has for easy and blissful sleep anywhere, any time. I know, because I spend a goodly amount of time laying next to him listening to him breathe as I contemplate his demise. Night time is an opportune time for me to explore all my shortcomings and ways that I can do better for my family. One way that I pacify these voices without either making myself crazy or completely breaking the bank is to follow the guidelines of the Dirty Dozen.

As much as I would love to only buy free range, organic, non-GMO, fair trade foods grown and produced by tree-loving hippies and farmers who sing their flocks to sleep each night, I just can’t justify the cost. I want to eat healthy, but even more than that I want to spare my children and their rapidly growing bodies the hazards of constant pesticide and herbicide exposure. Things like this are seared into my psyche, and I agree with it wholeheartedly:

I get around this by choosing my battles, and spending extra money for organic when it comes to the things in my fridge and pantry that pack the most poison. The dirty dozen outlines the top 12 contenders in order from the highest pesticide concentration to the lowest. The things on this list we simply do without if we cannot get them organic.

Dirty Dozen
1. Apples (Trader Joe’s is my favorite place for organic apples)
2. Strawberries (I’ve lost hours of my life thinking about how many I’ve picked and eaten pregnant with Ayden. He’s so smart now, he probably could have cured cancer if I hadn’t marinated him in pesticides for 9 months.)
3. Blueberries (Costco has a big bag of organic frozen mixed berries that are my toddler’s favorite dessert)
4. Celery (good riddance)
5. Peaches (I haven’t had a fresh peach in years. *sob*)
6. Spinach (Costco has 1 lb. organic baby spinach for $4.53!)
7. Bell Peppers
8. Nectarines
9. Cucumbers
10. Cherry Tomatoes
11. Snap Peas
12. Potatoes (This tuber sucks up all the pesticides in the soil)

We’ve found making informed choices about organic produce an easier undertaking when its boiled down into a nice tidy list like this. Even better, there’s yet another list out there of produce that has the least amount of pesticide contamination, but I will cover that in another post. I try not to sweat the occasional lapse when eating out, but I figure our day-to-day intake is minimal so we can take a hit.

In addition to following these lists fairly closely in our home, we also buy only organic milk (Trader Joe’s is one of the cheapest places I’ve found). We are in high hopes that this will spare our pre-teen son from sprouting breasts or our (hopefully) future daughter from starting her period at 9 years old from all the hormones most dairy cows are given. We also avoid canned goods and bottled drinks as much as possible, due to the often high BPA contents of these items. I thought I was being completely paranoid until I discovered that the university hospital where I work is currently undertaking a fetal BPA and phthalate exposure study and measuring babies’ genatalia after birth. Greeeeeeeeat. I’m not a total nazi about this, as we’ve been known to use the occassional can of refried beans, and I’m not going to stop my thirsty child from drinking a bottle of water when he’s running around in our 90 degree weather if that’s the only thing available. But, I’m certainly not going to buy him bottled water to drink at home when we have a wonderful water filter at the kitchen sink.

Not a big fan of this look in a fetus.

Five years ago we started this process by making the commitment to buy only organic milk, which felt huge and unbearably expensive at the time. Over the years we have slowly adopted other lifestyle modifications, and I can only imagine that ten years from now we might well be living like naked recluses in the rain forest in an attempt to escape the chemical exposures of everyday life. Each family has to decide for themselves what is important to them, and taking that first little step is by far the most important one.

Us 10 years from now…scared of everything!
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