How dirty is your superfood? The new Dirty Dozen & more

June 26, 2012

Let me say it loud and proud: my family is full of health nuts. This wasn’t always the case. It all started after my folks sold their McDonald’s in the late 80s, the doctor ordered us to clean up our diets and my big brother Nick started bringing home alfalfa sprouts. (Before this point I ingested enough McDLTs and Bacon Double Cheeseburgers to satisfy a football team). Today my branch of the Vasil tree could likely compete with a heard of goats, consuming a small farm’s worth of greens a day and sprinkling hemp hearts on pretty much anything (not that goats eat a lot of hemp, though I’m sure they’d enjoy hemp hearts if they got a chance).

Now, in Ecoholic Body I talk about how just because your favourite superfood is super healthy doesn’t mean it comes without headaches. Turns out sprawling acai monoculture farms have actually been responsible for knocking down rainforest (Sambazon is a good certified fair trade, organic, wild-harvested choice). Camu camu berries, on the other hand, really shouldn’t be wild-picked for sustainability reasons (get the USDA certified organic kind instead).

And some of the biggest health boosters in your fridge may be laced with unwanted pesticide residues. Just this week, Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its latest Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce. In light of their updated Dirty Dozen list (the 12 most tainted fruits and veggies), I decided to update my Seven Superfoods to Always Buy Organic list from Ecoholic Body with new stats from EWG.

Blueberries: American blueberries are in now 11th place on the list of the 12 dirtiest pieces of produce. They tested positive for 42 different pesticides. Get ’em organic!

Strawberries: It’s that time of year when ripe, luscious strawberries are in season. Shame they’re also #5 on the Dirty Dozen list in 2012 and up to 13 pesticides were found on a single sample! Get ’em organic.

Cherries: Antioxidant rich cherries are #14 on the dirty list.  Better than being #9 last year but definitely could use improvement. Get ’em organic.

Kale:  Don’t know about you, but I eat a lot of these leafy greens. (Every time I do I think of Woody Harrelson in Cheers drinking a shake and saying “you can really taste the kale.”) Too bad they’re tied with collards for 13th place. Best to get ’em organic.

Also on my Seven Superfoods to Always Buy Organic list were Green Tea, Chocolate  and Salmon (that last one should be eaten wild to reduce your contaminants) though, naturally, EWG doesn’t cover those in their produce guide. To get the full list ranking 45 fruits and veggies for pesticide residues and a handy dandy Clean 15 list (very different from my Mean 15 list of bodycare ingredients to avoid! The Clean 15 is EWG’s list of the lowest residue produce that you don’t have to purchase organic if you can’t afford it) head to The good news? Yummy super nutritious foods like sweet potato, avocado and oh so seasonal asparagus are in the clear! :)

Quick Super Food Mask: Got leftover avocado skins? Don’t trash ’em! Before you put ’em in the compost bin, rub the skins on your face and let the green goo sit for 10 minutes. It’s an incredibly nourishing face mask full of beneficial oils and vitamins (including E and K). Your face will thank you!

Question of the day: Couldn’t most/all fruits and veggies be labelled superfoods??