Monday, August 24, 2015


Buying local is always the best bet

Like everybody else, I want to prepare and serve the tastiest and healthiest food for my family. While I know serving organic foods may be the healthiest thing to do, we just can’t afford to go completely organic because it’s too expensive. And luckily, it’s not always necessary. My first suggestion is to buy local. Farmers markets are springing up in every town. Produce is usually freshly-picked and generally contain less pesticides and other toxic chemicals, if they use any at all.

When this is not an option, there is a list called “The Dirty Dozen” identified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), as highest in pesticides. The mission of the EWG is to make our food supply more transparent in order to help us decide when it's worth spending extra for organic produce. Topping off the list is apples, followed by peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, snap peas (imported), and potatoes. Local grocery stores often have these items in an organic food section of the store.

Then there are the fruits and veggies with the least pesticides, also known as the "Clean Fifteen.” They are avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwi, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower, and sweet potatoes. Buying conventionally grown foods on this list is fine, and less expensive, but still considered safe.

My own personal choice is to buy organic milk, meat and poultry as often as affordable, too.

These items can often be found at farmers markets and local farm stands. I am a big proponent of buying local, so say hello when you see me at the local orchards, farms, and farmers markets. I will be the one checking out the apples, spinach and peppers and asking for everyone’s favorite recipes.

Alice Facente is a community health nurse for the Backus Health System. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal health care provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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