Honoring The Earth….The Nitty Gritty about Organic Produce

Initially, my plan was to write about the “Dirty Dozen”, a list of vegetables that are claimed to be woefully contaminated with pesticide residues and extoll the virtues of buying organic. I’ve tried to remember that list when shopping, however this year I did a little more digging. Hmmm. The EWG or Environmental Working Group publishes the annual list and it seems that it’s just a fear-based campaign, designed to promote a transition to pricey organic alternatives from conventional agriculture. EWG’s list is not peer reviewed, is scientifically unsupportable, and is based on pesticide residue data gathered by the USDA, which they manipulate. The USDA has repeatedly found for years that 99% of the produce tested have no detectable residue or the residue is below tolerance levels established by the EPA. Basically, by raising produce safety fears, this list discourages people from eating fresh produce that is critical to good health.

So forget the Dirty Dozen! Here’s why:

  1. It creates a false sense of food risk where a only a very small risk exists.
  2. It perpetuates a fear of chemistry that is used safely.
  3. It harms farmers. At a time like this, we need to be supporting our farmers. Their margins are slim already and other natural disasters can affect their crops and bottom line as well.
  4. It discourages eating fresh fruits and vegetables. When the alternative is pricey organic produce, it isn’t purchased.
  5. It takes healthy food from the poor and promotes food waste. (https://medium.com/@kevinfolta/a-half-dozen-reasons-to-reject-the-dirty-dozen-9f12c38faa83

My goodness! I’ve spent way too much money on buying organic veggies and fruits. Really, the truth is we all need to eat more produce – period!

The 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that we consume more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet, and in doing so, we can reduce the risk of many chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and obesity. That means to 1.5 to 2 cups of fruits and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day. According to the CDC, only 1 in 10 people eat enough fruits and vegetables every day. Do you?

So here we are in the throes of summer, enjoying the heat and daily showers, pandemic isolation, and summer produce. What fresh fruit or vegetables do you think of when you remember summer time when you were a kid? Up home, it was cherries, and blueberries, and watermelon. Vegetables, it was tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, sweet corn on the cob and green beans. There is nothing better than a vine ripened home-grown tomato.

Here in Georgia, we are blessed by having numerous farms that grow food all year around. By buying locally grown produce, you help the state economy and keep your carbon foot print small. Buying seasonal too will help save you money – buying when the supply is plentiful should keep the prices down. The guide below is for seasonal vegetables you can find in GA:

  • Apples, August through November (local harvest may be available from cold storage into spring)
  • Arugula, April through June (may be available from hothouses in winter)
  • Asparagus, April through June
  • Basil, May through September
  • Beans, May through October
  • Beets, April through June
  • Blueberries, May through August
  • Bok Choy, October through June
  • Broccoli, May through June and October through December
  • Brussels Sprouts, November through February
  • Cabbage, October through May
  • Cantaloupes, June through August
  • Carrots, October through May
  • Cauliflower, October through December
  • Celery, October through February
  • Chard, October through May
  • Collard Greens, October through June
  • Corn, June, and July
  • Cucumbers, June through August
  • Edamame, June through September
  • Eggplant, June through October
  • Figs, July and August
  • Garlic, May through October (available from storage year-round)
  • Green Garlic, March through May
  • Grapes, July through October
  • Kale, October through May
  • Leeks, October through May
  • Lettuce, September through June
  • Melons, June through September
  • Mushrooms(cultivated), year-round
  • Okra, May through October
  • Onions, March through November (available from storage year-round)
  • Parsnips, October through December
  • Peaches, May through August
  • Peas/Pea Pods, February through May
  • Pecans, September through December
  • Peppers, June through September
  • Persimmons, September through November
  • Plums & Pluots, May through July
  • Potatoes, May through August (available from storage through winter)
  • Radishes, March through June
  • Spinach, November through May
  • Squash (summer), May through October
  • Squash (winter), August through December
  • Strawberries, April through June
  • Sweet Onions, May and June
  • Sweet Potatoes, August through February
  • Tomatoes, June through October
  • Turnips, October through April
  • Watermelons, June through September
  • Zucchini, May through October
  • Zucchini Blossoms, May through September

Many root vegetables and frost-friendly cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, kale, and broccoli, will fair quite well through Georgia’s often mild winters, so those items may show up for months after what’s listed here, especially if winter is a mild one that year. (https://www.thespruceeats.com/georgia-seasonal-fruits-and-vegetables-2217175 )

Besides being blessed with local and nearby farms, metro Atlanta has a multitude of farmer’s markets where locally and out of area produce and products can be found. The Atlanta Journal and Constitution recently published a complete guide to the markets.

(Your complete guide to 2020 metro Atlanta farmers markets

As many of the farmers in the area have been impacted by COVID-19 with the closing of local restaurants, supporting them at this time is a win-win for all. Fresh tasty produce for you and helping a farmer out. Tell me, who’s your farmer?

 

images provided by pixaby

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