TTT: Clean Foods, Knife Skills & Well-Read Tea Drinkers

Let’s get into my 3 things right away because I’m pretty excited about them this week. As you probably know, I joined this Blog Party last week, which is created & hosted by Salma at The Write Balance, Raj at Pink Chai Living and Nisha at Love Laugh Mirch

Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen
I was going to leave this as an entire post, but I really want to talk about it. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit Organization that works to reveal the truth about what’s in our food, household products & general environment. They regularly conduct studies that determine the amount of chemicals in various things that we use, and one of the studies that I look forward to the most is the EWG Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce, also known as the Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen Lists, which detail foods with the most and least pesticide residues. These lists rank the amount of pesticides that are found in normally grown fruits and vegetables. This helps people prioritize the types of Fruits & Vegetables that they should purchase that are organically grown.
The 2014 List has just been released and it is below:
Dirty Dozen (produce with the highest pesticide load)
  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet Bell Peppers
  8. Nectarines
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry Tomatoes
  11. Snap Peas
  12. Potatoes

Clean Fifteen: (produce with the least pesticide residue)

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet Peas (frozen)
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papaya
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Sweet Potatoes
For more information, check out the EWG Website. As you probably already know, pesticides have been linked to hormone disruption, cancer, abnormal brain and nervous system development and a whole lot of other scary stuff.
Apples have topped the Dirty Dozen list for the 3rd time in row. The most common pesticide found on apples in the US is actually banned in the EU due to health concerns.
Living in Guyana, a lot of fruits that are on the list are imported – apples, strawberries, grapes, nectarines, bell peppers & snap peas. I contacted the QA/QC Manager from a company that grows the apples that I see in the market here. They told me that yes, they do use fertilizers and pesticides. These apples that we get in Guyana are imported from Washington State – can you imagine that? It makes me think about the sheer enormity of food supply chains throughout the world. Stop and think for a second – shouldn’t any fruit that can last for months on end (without so much as a spot), surviving travel and different weather conditions should raise some sort of suspicion? It is likely that the fruits and veggies imported in the country are treated with pesticides, and for a society whose diet is becoming increasingly diversified, this information is something that everyone should be aware of. I’m particularly sad as well because I love those fruits, but I am pretty serious about knowing what’s in my food and it motivates me even more to start my garden ASAP.
On a brighter note, the Clean Fifteen lists the fruits and veggies that carry a low pesticide load, so it isn’t as bad if you purchase the non organic types of these if the organic ones aren’t available or stretch your budget. I’m so happy to see Avocados on the list, as well as Onions, Mangoes & Cauliflower.
Basic Knife Skills
I always wondered what the deal was with knives. You see them in stores for hundreds of dollars, and you always hear on cooking shows and in books that a good sharp knife is the most essential tool in the kitchen. I thought it was over hyped until I got a new knife and literally felt the difference. Cutting was so much easier and I felt like a professional chef. I think the second most important thing is basic knife skills, which sadly, I don’t think I have quite mastered. I definitely can’t cut like the chefs on TV. So I heard about Craftsy – a site where there are video tutorials on a wide range of crafts. Most are paid tutorials, but there’s a free video tutorial on basic knife skills hosted by Chef Brendan McDermott. You can enroll and watch the videos anytime. I enrolled but have been too lazy to really watch the videos, but enough is enough! I promise I’ll learn this weekend. Anyone wanna join me?
NovelTea Tea bags
I’ve always loved reading books although I don’t fall for the ‘book lovers’ gift ideas that Amazon and other gift sites have. I occasionally find stuff I like and usually give them as gifts to my other book loving buddy, but overall I dont need anything fancy, just give me a book. And a cup of tea. Which is why I actually really like this gift I stumbled across – Novel Teas (get it?) tea bags. Every tea bag tag has a different literary quote on it. How cool is that? I can’t say anything about whether the tea is good, but I like the idea of coming across a quote like that with my breakfast. It makes me think that my mornings will feel a little bit more cultured 🙂


  1. Eeps. It freaks me out sometimes how so much of the ‘healthy’ food we eat is slathered in unhealthy chemicals. Thanks for sharing this list. Also the novel teabags are v cute – appeal to the not-so-inner nerd in me 🙂

    • Thanks Sarah :). Yep, when I first came across the older lists, I was thoroughly traumatized – you’d think fruits are fruits and they’re unarguably healthy and good for you. Its a lot to understand where our food comes from and it can be really paralyzing sometimes. That’s why I hope my thumb is green so that I can relax a bit lol

  2. Thanks for sharing this list. Isn’t it sad it needs to exist? But it’s so important people think about where their food comes from. I did want to mention that corn from the US is ‘clean’ is because it’s Genetically Engineered with bt – which some consider an organic pesticide. Many organic farmers disagree and testing of its effects are… let’s just say, questionable. Personally I’m not confident that bt-laced corn is any safer than pesticide laden corn. I don’t know about the others on the list.

    Anyway… It’s a wonderful time to start an organic garden! There are gorgeous organic heirloom corns out there just waiting to be planted 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing, Sheri. The GMO / pesticide thing is relatively new to me as well, and I definitely want to understand it more. You’re totally right, its so sad that these lists need to exist, and there’s so much information that its overwhelming to wade through and understand. I think its worth it though because I don’t think we can afford not to understand it – both health wise & financially. I’d love any links to information that you come across!

  3. Thank you, that list is so helpful! I always wonder when I’m in the grocery store what I should and shouldn’t buy organic! Do you think the list would be different for Canada? And I totally understand about the knives, we recently bought a new set and wow, what a difference it makes!! Thanks so much for linking up this week 🙂

    • Thanks for hosting, Salma! From what I understand, the list examines pesticide retention as well, so once a pesticide is sprayed, different amounts of residue will remain based on the fruit. As such, its definitely important to find out where your fruits and veggies come from and how they are grown. I’d rather err on the side of caution until I learn more about it. Its a new area to me as well, so I’ll share whatever I come across, and if you come across any Canadian studies, I’d love to take a read.

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