Why Detoxification MattersI’ve had the issue of detoxification on my list of articles to write for some time because it’s such an important part of a healthy lifestyle. The foods we eat, the chemicals we put on our face and skin, inhale in our homes and outside, and ingest through our cooking have been shown to cause cancer, lead to sex changes in animals, and overwhelm our immune systems.

We all need to find some simple ways to minimize our exposure and to help our bodies rid themselves of what we’ve already been exposed to (even babies are born with a toxic load already from their mother’s exposure: more on that in a moment.)

I was finally spurred into action by the recent petition France made to the European environmental ministers demanding that they develop an official strategy around endocrine disruptors.

Endocrine disruptors are “products and everyday objects, such as detergents, plastics, cosmetics, textiles, paints, contain substances with endocrine disrupting properties…  that interfere with the hormonal regulation of living beings and affect reproduction, growth, development, behavior, etc.”

France argued that “the effects of some chemicals on the human body are now sufficiently documented” saying an official stance is needed to protect its citizens from their harms,  “especially among sensitive populations – pregnant women and young children.”  What we as adults can handle is one thing, but infants can bear much less.

Sweden and Denmark immediately backed France in demanding regulation of these “stealth chemicals.” Sweden took it one step further, filing a lawsuit with the European Court of Justice. Sweden’s environmental minister said, “We have decided to sue the Commission because we want the court to force the Commission to deliver the scientific criteria so we can start moving toward a poison-free society.”

Wow! The idea that the toxic chemicals that disrupt our systems are being regulated or that these European countries are calling for that regulation is amazing and exciting. That’s not going to happen soon in U.S. unfortunately. But hopefully, if the regulation goes through, Americans will begin to demand that the government regulate the toxic chemicals that are disrupting our systems and share the health risks openly with citizens so they can make informed decisions too.

Endocrine disruptors pose challenges to us because they are basically “fake” hormones that sit in the hormone receptor sites and block our hormones from entering. Each hormone has a job or jobs to do, such as starting or stopping a process of some kind. When the fake hormone takes its place, the processes that should occur do not and are “disrupted,” causing a host of health concerns in the body at the same time that the true hormone travels through our blood looking for a place to land, leading to high insulin or estrogen levels for example.

Many people think that they aren’t exposed to that many toxins or that the exposure levels are not really a problem. But a study almost ten years ago by the Environmental Working Group  (EWG) studied the umbilical cord blood of babies and found that they had an average of 200 contaminants in their blood upon birth.

The EWG tested over 400 chemicals from industrial and consumer products including pesticides, heavy metals, flame retardants used in furniture, blankets and clothing, one of the chemicals that makes Teflon non-stick cookware, and more.

In total, they found 287 chemicals in the babies’ blood including 209 chemicals that had never before showed up in cord blood. Since it’s estimated that 2000 new chemicals are introduced every year, who knows what the study would reveal ten years later. (I definitely hope they do a follow up soon!)

A more recent study in 2011 tested pregnant women and their babies for the presence of genetically modified food chemicals and found that 93% of pregnant women had these chemicals in their blood and 80% of the umbilical cord samples from babies contained the GMO chemicals at birth.

And before you think, well, I eat organic and live healthy so that doesn’t affect me, a Canadian study in 2006 tested people from all areas of the country and found chemicals present in all of their blood. One of the participants was an Indian chief in a remote rural tribe in Northwestern Quebec and he too tested positive for chemicals, even though he lives far removed from urban pollution and processed foods. You can read the whole fascinating report at http://environmentaldefence.ca/reports/toxic-nation-report-pollution-canadians

We can’t escape these chemicals: even chemicals banned more than 20 years ago are still showing up in our blood. They travel through the air via weather patterns, through our water supplies, leach into the ground and impact our food supply, are used on so many of the products around us including clothing, furniture, and in plastics, cosmetics, and foods.

While we can’t avoid them, we can, however, minimize our exposure by choosing organic foods and using organic health care and house hold products, filtering our water (especially if you have fluoridated water, as the medical journal the Lancet declared fluoride to be a neurotoxin this week), avoiding plastics and never allowing hot food or water to come in contact with plastic, and cooking with glass or ceramic and avoiding non-stick coatings.

In addition, since many of these chemicals stay in our fat cells, that means they stay in the fat cells of the animals we eat. Hormone-free, antibiotic-free, pesticide-free meat that is grass-fed or in the case of chickens, pasture-raised and not vegetarian fed, wild deep sea fish that are not farm-raised, or wild meats such as bison or venison are best.

Look for the list of fruits and vegetables that you must buy organic that I wrote about earlier this Spring and avoid packaged and processed foods as much as you can. Nitrates in meats are another harmful toxin so avoid packaged and processed meats and choose less fatty fish. The Environmental Working Group publishes lists of fruits and vegetables as well as guidelines for healthy fish and even guidelines for cosmetics and you can find them at www.ewg.org

The body is meant to detoxify small amounts of toxins on a daily basis, usually while we sleep. That makes getting a really good night’s rest important to allow your body to perform this vital task. But the amount of chemicals that we are exposed to these days is greater than our bodies should have to bear. If we’re healthy, the body will get by, but as we are exposed to more and more, if our immune system is compromised in any way, the body will struggle and a myriad of health conditions can occur including cancer.

In addition to eating well and drinking lots of water to help our bodies flush out toxic substances, one of the most important things you can do to support your body in detoxification is sweat. Exercise to the point of sweating, take a sauna or a steam bath regularly and try to minimize use of antiperspirants. Antiperspirant is a very recent invention, one that is blocking a very important body function.

If you sweat a lot, try just using a deodorant, preferably one without aluminum. Aluminum is a toxin and when you put it on your armpits, your body will absorb it rapidly. And while aluminum is a big AVOID, there are many other chemicals in antiperspirants and deodorants such as propylene glycol, parabens, fragrances dyes and more: daily exposure can do long-term harm. You can learn more in my article on Why Your Cosmetics and Toiletries Matter As Much (or More) Than Your Food.

There are natural antiperspirants as well and if you must use one, definitely find an organic version. But if you can save the antiperspirant for the occasional big presentation days and use a deodorant most days instead, your body will still be able to release the toxins as intended.

If giving up your favorite food or skin product leaves you quaking, just make as many good choices as you can in other areas. If you need to hold onto a few near and dear products, it’s ok. Your body can deal with small amounts: it’s the cumulative effect or exposure to so many different chemicals on a daily basis that is of concern. But go green and organic in as many other products and areas as you can. And be sure to work up a sweat. Your body will thank you!

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!



Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at www.IngerPols.com

Photo Source: courtesy of Praisaeng / Free Digital Photos


It’s my favorite time of year! Not just because the weather is finally warming up but because it is time for the Environmental Working Group’s annual release of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 fruits and vegetables. As we turn the corner, (finally!) toward Spring, it’s a perfect time to talk about choosing the fruits and vegetables and the tradeoffs between your health and your finances.

As a result of the diminished nutrient profiles in foods due to modern farming practices, we need to eat more fruits and vegetables than ever. You may remember a prior article in which I shared research that to get the same level of nutrients from two peaches eaten back in the 1950’s, today you’d have to eat 53!

We are all trying to make our money in this tough economy stretch as far as it can, so it’s good to know that there is some produce that you can buy conventionally grown; being able to purchase it at your regular store or when it’s on sale means you can really save some money.  Other fruits and vegetables, however, absolutely should be bought organic, as it’s worth every penny of the investment in your health to avoid the toxic pesticides they contain.

Every year, the Environmental Working Group, or EWG, releases a list of the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables known as The Dirty Dozen. They also provide a list of the Clean 15 that you can feel safe about buying conventionally grown. The list changes every year as some dirty produce does get cleaned up and some clean produce begins to show signs of pesticides.

Everything not on one of these two lists is a use-your-best-judgment call: buy organic if and when you can, especially if it’s something you don’t peel. The more important avoiding pesticides is to you, the more items on the “in- between list” (meaning anything not found on either of the two lists that follows below), you’ll probably want to look for organic.

If it’s not a big priority for you at the moment vs. other health considerations, if you don’t have growing children, if you cannot afford it or it’s not a regular purchase, it’s ok to consume the conventional produce on the “in-between list” periodically as long as you wash it well or don’t eat the skin.

To the extent that you can, buy local and support your small farms whenever possible especially if buying conventional; the further food travels, the more it will be sprayed to ensure it makes the journey without spoiling and the less time it’s allowed to ripen and reach nutritional maturity.

The Clean 15 (These can be bought conventionally grown if you’re watching your expenses.)

Sweet Corn
Sweet Peas –Frozen
Sweet Potatoes

It’s important to note that most genetically modified produce such as corn and soy is used to make packaged goods and doesn’t end up in the produce aisle. Some produce will be labeled with a sticker that begins with the number 8, which indicates it’s genetically modified and should always be avoided, but it’s not a requirement and so most produce will not have such clear markings.

According to the EWG, small amounts of GMO Produce such as zucchini, papaya and sweet corn do make their way onto the shelves.  If avoiding genetically modified foods is a priority to you, these should also be bought organic, even though papaya and corn make the “clean” list as far as pesticides go. (While we love an occasional sweet corn on the cob, because corn is so pervasive in foods these days, we limit it to a couple times a season, really enjoy it when we do, and always buy it organic even though it’s on the clean list.)

The Dirty Dozen (ALWAYS buy organic)

Sweet Bell Peppers
Nectarines – Imported
Cherry Tomatoes
Snap Peas – Imported

Kale and Collard Greens
Hot peppers

The first thing you’ll notice about The Dirty Dozen is that many of these are the fruits and vegetables your kids or grandkids eat most. The impact of the pesticides will be even greater upon their developing bodies and because they eat from this group regularly, it’s even more important to invest in organic options if there are kids involved. (And keep in mind, this means products made from these fruits as well such as apple or grape juice, and apple sauce, etc. These should be purchased organic as well.)

More and more stores are adding organic produce; these are the fruits and veggies to look for wherever you shop and make it a rule to invest in organic versions. Trader Joes is pretty good at stocking these if you have access to one nearby, but even there, it’s hit or miss. There are many times of the year I cannot get organic apples for my kids’ lunches and so we have to switch to something else until they come in because I will not buy conventional.

If you cannot find fresh organic versions of the Dirty Dozen, look for frozen organic strawberries, spinach or peppers. If you can’t get organic peaches or nectarines, try plums or another fruit on the clean or in-between list and wash it really well with fruit and veggie wash if you’ll be eating the peel. (Conventional or organic, clean, dirty or in-between, always wash your produce with a fruit and veggie wash and never eat any fruits or vegetables until you have!)

Also try visiting local farms or farmers markets and talking to the farmers. Many smaller farms follow organic farming practices but cannot afford the time and expense of applying for organic certification. Again, even if not certified organic, local produce will have more nutrients and is a better choice than heavily sprayed conventional produce that travels from far away.

Finally, last year, the Dirty Dozen list had some additions that didn’t meet the full criteria but were commonly found to have toxic pesticide contamination. This year, two vegetables made their “plus” list: hot peppers and leafy greens such as kale and collards.

These vegetables show pesticide residues of organochloride pesticides that are toxic to the nervous system and as a result have been phased out of agriculture. They make the list because residues still linger in farm fields and have been found on conventional produce sold in stores, so these should also be purchased as organic.

Last year, domestically grown summer squash such as yellow crookneck squash and zucchini made the plus list too. But this year they have removed it from the highest level of danger list, finding pesticide levels to have improved.

As produce season gets under way, enjoy the 9-13 servings per days of fruits and vegetables your body requires for optimal health, but invest in the best form you can of the dirty dozen and you can save some pennies on the rest!

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!



Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal and a free copy of Inger’s bestselling ebook at www.IngerPols.com/freegifts

Photo Source: courtesy of SOMMAI / Free Digital Photos


Fish is a nutrient-rich food proven to improve heart health and prized as a primary nutrient source in many cultures. Fish provides protein without the saturated fat and is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids. Fish has become increasingly popular since word got out about the benefits of eating it at least two times a week.

While fish has many health benefits, some studies have questioned the healthiness of farm-raised fish, especially salmon. There’s also concern about dolphins and fish that are killed in the tuna fishing process; their bodies are thrown back into the sea as waste. The popularity of fish has raised concerns about over-fishing and the sustainability of commercial fishing long-term. The quality of fish has diminished, especially those caught closer to shore and those found in lakes and streams, where contaminants foul our water supply.

Choosing the best fish is not just about what kind of health benefits the species has; the way it was raised or caught is also important to the nutritional profile. And if you are concerned about the environment and sustainability, the destruction left in the wake of the fishing boats matters, too. Species, season, diet, life stage, age and location all affect the contaminant level and nutritional profile of fish. There is no standardization for effective comparisons, and very little regulation, measurement or labeling to inform consumers.

Though more Americans are beginning to learn about factory farming concerns with livestock thanks to authors like Michael Pollan and movies like Food, Inc., many of us still know little about the factory farm process for fish. So let’s start by looking at salmon farming and why it raises so many concerns.

Salmon Farming: It’s No Swim Upstream

When we think of salmon, we usually see the image of a salmon swimming upstream to spawn, fighting against all odds to lay eggs before it dies. But instead of jumping upstream or powering through the ocean waters, farm salmon circle lazily in small pens that have been likened by at least one journalist to floating pig farms. Waste and excess feed cover the sea floor beneath the farms, creating bacteria that consume oxygen that is required to sustain life for creatures that dwell on the ocean floor. Copper sulfate is used on the nets to prevent algae build up but leaves toxic sediment on the sea floor. Fish can also escape through the nets, creating environmental concerns; scientists estimate more than a million farmed Atlantic salmon have escaped into the Pacific and it is unclear what effect this will have on the Pacific salmon population over time.

As with land-based livestock, farm-raised salmon are vaccinated against diseases that spread easily in the close quarters of the pens. They are fed more antibiotics by body weight than any other livestock to prevent infection (creating strains of disease-resistant bacteria in both farmed and wild fish). And they are doused in pesticides to get rid of sea lice.

Sea lice exist in the wild as well, but are rampant in the close quarters of a fish farm. Scientists are concerned that wild species that swim by farms will be exposed to sea lice, which can damage or kill the vulnerable young salmon. Net hauls have dropped significantly and fisherman who once supported the farms as a means of ensuring ocean salmon sustainability are becoming concerned.

Farmers say it’s unlikely that they are responsible for a decline in wild salmon because the pesticide emamectin benzoate is only added to feed when sea lice are present. In Canada, the rules state that farmers must stop use of the pesticide 25 days before harvest to keep the fish safe to eat. But it’s unclear how much exposure is really OK and how much remains in the fatty tissue after dosage has stopped.

Farm salmon are fed smaller chopped up fish and pellets of feed laden with pesticides, raising concerns about sustainability for those fish. It takes an average of 2.4 pounds of wild fish to sustain a one-pound farm raised salmon and scientists are concerned that the farming practice is only making sustainability of ocean fishing worse.

To make salmon skins pink, since they don’t eat the typical salmon diet of pink krill, thus absorbing cartenoid, or use their muscles as much as typical salmon would, farm salmon are fed synthetic pigments including canthaxanthin to turn their otherwise dull gray flesh a vivid pink. In Canada, the flesh color options, manufactured by pharmaceutical company Hoffman-LaRoche, are delivered to the farmers so they can pick the exact shade of pink they like.

Canthaxanthin, when taken in a sunless tanning pill, was linked to retinal damage in Europe. It’s banned in England, and the European commission has issued a warning about it, urging the industry to find an alternative. But it remains legal elsewhere, and in the U.S., scientists aren’t focused on it as they put most of their attention into what they deem to be a bigger problem: PCBs and toxic dioxins in the fish.

PCBs, Importation and Mercury

PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are highly toxic compounds that were banned in the 1970s. They pose serious health risks to children, especially babies and fetuses, who can experience developmental and neurological problems from repeated or prolonged exposure to even small amounts of PCBs. They affect adults as well, especially those with impaired immune systems or insufficient healthy gut flora.

Even though they were banned decades ago, these industrial compounds are very slow to break down and remain present in our environment, especially in sediment at the bottom of streams, lakes, rivers and coastal areas. They can be absorbed by fish and remain in their fatty tissues, building up in humans if contaminated fish is consumed frequently.

While these contaminants are a concern among wild fish, especially any lake or stream fish or those caught close to shore, two major studies have shown that farmed salmon accumulate more of these substances, which are known carcinogens, than wild salmon. The feed appears to be the concern, as it includes higher amounts of ground up sardines, anchovies and other small fish than a wild salmon would consume.

Manmade contaminants make their way into the ocean and are absorbed by fish. Then those fish are consumed in large amounts by the farm salmon, and the contaminants accumulate in the fatty tissue. It is estimated that farm-raised salmon have seven times as many PCBs in their systems as wild salmon. Farm raised salmon have a higher fat content than wild because they don’t move around much as their active wild counterparts, so they have more fatty tissue to absorb contaminants. Unfortunately, the higher fat content is not healthy omega 3 fatty acids; it’s less healthy, pro-inflammatory omega 6 fat.

It’s estimated that 68% of fish consumed in America is imported from another country, where it is often farmed and not always labeled. While the U.S. has no standards for organic seafood, (though Whole Foods says it has instituted its own farm fish standards to ensure healthy safe fish options), the European Union has had them for years. So organic European fish can be a safe choice. But many fish brought in from other countries contains additional chemicals and additives that we would likely not approve of.

The FDA inspects only about 5% of all imported farm fish, so many countries disregard the rules and take a chance, knowing it’s unlikely that they will get caught. Recently, the FDA blocked the sale of three kinds of fish from China because they contained “unapproved” drugs. However, it’s equally concerning that there are many “approved” drugs that could have been used freely and allowed to become part of our food supply.

Mercury is another concern in both wild and farm-raised fish. While we eat fish for good heart health, mercury can actually increase the risk of heart attacks. Recent studies have shown that like PCBs and toxins such as bisphenol-A (BPA), a known endocrine disruptor that comes from plastic pollution in our waters, mercury levels are higher in farm-raised fish than in the wild.

Mercury from industrial pollution enters the water and is converted to methylmercury, a toxin that is consumed by smaller fish. Again, the larger fish consume the smaller fish and take in that toxin. This occurs in the wild as well, however, as we have just seen, the practice of grinding up large amounts of small fish to feed the farm-raised salmon means they eat much more of the small fish than they would in the wild, increasing their ingestion of toxins.

Clearly there are some issues with fish farming. But to be fair, there are issues with wild fishing as well. The same contaminants are present in lakes, streams and rivers, making many fish from those sources no longer safe to eat. Several states have issued advisories on their lake fish. Fish caught close to the coast face the same concerns. While deep-water fish are the least affected by these issues, these fish are often caught through practices like trolling with large nets that result in the accidental death of other species.

So what can we do? Here are some tips for healthier fish consumption.

Making Healthier Fish Choices

Use safe cooking methods to minimize the consumption of skin and fat, where PCBs accumulate. Trim the fish and remove skin and the fat along the backsides and belly and remove the internal organs, lobster tomalley and mustard of crabs, before you cook them. Try grilling and broiling fish, letting the fat drip away while it’s cooking and minimize use of fish drippings. Avoid frying fish as that seals in the contaminants. And if you are smoking fish, fillet and remove the skin prior to the smoking process.

If you, or your children, love tuna fish, minimize the exposure to mercury by choosing light tuna, not albacore, and eat it less often. Because their brains and nervous systems are still developing, children are particularly susceptible to mercury contamination. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, chunk/solid white is a larger tuna that accumulates more mercury, while skipjack, which is in most canned light/chunk light tuna, has about one-third the mercury level as albacore.

But it’s still important to read the label, as some canned light tuna contains yellowfin tuna, which is similar to albacore in mercury levels. Sometimes labeled (but not always) gourmet or “tonno” these should be eaten only in limited amounts by both children and adults. Small kids should limit tuna to a couple meals a month, while older kids can usually have it safely once a week. (If you have a compromised immune system or are pregnant, you may want to avoid tuna completely.)

Generally speaking, deep-water, cold-water fish are the least contaminated. If you are buying salmon, always look for Alaska wild sockeye or red salmon. But decide what matters to you: omega 3 consumption, avoiding PCBs and mercury or sustainable fishing and make choices based on your priorities. Ask questions about fish sources and vote with your wallet. Support the call for improved farm-fishing standards and practices. And most importantly, don’t be a creature of habit when it comes to fish consumption: Choose a variety of fish for your diet to spread the toxin exposure risk. Fish are a wonderful source of healthy fats and protein and eating fish twice a week–despite the toxin exposure risk–for most people is still a good long-term health choice.

Clearing up the Muddy Waters

While choosing the right fish can be confusing, at least one organization has attempted to simplify the process. The Monterrey Bay Aquarium has put together a guide that evaluates fish based on three major criteria: omega 3 levels, the presence of mercury and other toxins and the sustainability or ocean-friendly status of their harvest/capture. It also factors in whether fish are over-fished and caught faster than they can reproduce.

The aquarium worked with the Harvard School of Public Health and the Environmental Defense Fund to create a list of fish that are Eco-best choices, Eco-good choices and Eco-avoids. They also created a super green list of wild and farmed fish that are good for people and the oceans. The aquarium has created a series of pocket guides by region that you can print and carry with you when you go shopping.

The list changes monthly based on new information. The current best of the best list for May 2010 includes: Albacore Tuna (troll or pole caught from the U.S. or British Columbia), Freshwater Coho Salmon (farmed in tanks from the U.S.), mussels (farmed), oysters (farmed), Pacific sardines (wild caught), rainbow trout (farmed) and salmon (wild caught from Alaska).

No system is perfect, and the aquarium’s top choice of tuna that is troll or pole caught may be a good example, since finding that option in a typical store will be quite challenging, if not impossible. In addition, while they recommend albacore tuna, the Environmental Defense Fund recommends you avoid it for tuna fish sandwiches. Despite not being perfect, the list is an attempt to help you make good choices for your body and our planet. Combined with your own common sense and priorities, you will discover the best fish choices for you and your family.

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!



Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at www.IngerPols.com

Photo Source: Microsoft Clip Art


You may remember the controversy about several years ago over melamine-tainted baby formula in China. Several well-known baby food manufacturers sold melamine-tainted baby formula in an effort to make the milk appear to have a higher protein content than it actually did. The infants who consumed it developed kidney complications including kidney stones. Six infants died, thousands were hospitalized and hundreds of thousands more were affected.

Melamine is banned for use in food products, which is a good thing because it combines with cyanuric acid, which can be found in drinking water and in animal feed, inside the body and causes renal and urinary concerns in adults as well as infants. But melamine is still routinely used to make dishware by combining it with formaldehyde to make a melamine resin: a plastic that is fire resistant and heat tolerant. This makes it a popular choice for durable but inexpensive dishes, especially for those concerned about breakage such as parents of young children.

We already know about the dangers of BPA in plastic, which makes microwaving plastic containers or eating hot foods, such as soup from a supermarket soup bar in a plastic container, an unhealthy choice. Melamine dishes are more solid and denser than typical plastic, however, so up until now, melamine has been considered safe for microwaving and serving hot foods on. But a new study suggests it may be time to toss those plastic dishes once and for all.

Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a team of researchers in Taiwan examined the exposure to melamine that occurred after eating hot soup out of a melamine bowl.

They collected urine samples from participants before the meal and then again 6 times within the 12 hours following the meal. One group ate their soup form melamine bowls and the other used ceramic bowls. Researchers found that the participants who ate from the melamine bowl excreted 8.35 micrograms of melamine while the ceramic bowl group only excreted 1.35 micrograms. There is no safe level of melamine exposure but it’s unlikely to cause harm in a single incident. The concern the study presents is around the long-term exposure from repeated consumption of hot foods off melamine-leaching dishware.

It’s important to note that this study looked at eating hot soup out of a room temperature bowl and examined how much melamine was leaching into the food due to the heat from the food itself. It did not consider the additional exposure that might occur if the plate or bowl was heated in an oven or microwave first as may occur.

In addition to possibly causing kidney stones, melamine exposure can impact renal and kidney function so if you are eating out of melamine dishes, it may be time to invest in some new ceramic dishes, even if it means you might break a few along the way. They also make for a prettier table, and you’re more likely to less and to eat healthier if you create a relaxed, serene and peaceful meal environment. So set a beautiful table, sit down together with your family and really enjoy your meal. Savor the food, the company and the conversation, use real dishes and save the plastic for your picnic!

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at www.IngerPols.com

Photo Source: Microsoft Clip Art


Every year, the Environmental Working Group tests fruits and vegetables to determine which are the most — and least — contaminated with pesticides. If you’ve been a subscriber from the beginning, I have shared the previous results with you.

But the list can and does change over time and as we find ourselves in the height of summer here in New England, with fresh produce all around, I want to share the 2012 results to help you make better fruit and vegetable choices.

Let’s start with the good news! The following made the Clean 15 list, which means they were the cleanest and least pesticide-laden of the crops. This list is important because if you are watching your pennies and trying to determine when you can afford to buy — or whether you should splurge on — organic produce, these items can typically be purchased conventionally grown and still be ok to eat.

While local is always better since the nutrient levels will be higher because they are fresher from farm to table, you can still pick these up in any market and not worry about spending the extra money on organic.

The Clean 15 includes:

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Cabbage
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Eggplant
  10. Kiwi
  11. Domestic Cantaloupe
  12. Sweet potatoes
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Watermelon
  15. Mushrooms

One important note, however. Corn in this country is very often genetically modified, and not usually labeled as such in stores. So if you are concerned about consuming GMOs as I am, then buying organic corn is essential.

Now for the worst offenders. These are the most pesticide-ridden fruits and vegetables on the market, and some of them contain as many as 57 different pesticide residues. When you are looking to buy any of these for your family, this is when you should definitely consider splurging on organic versions.

The Dirty Dozen

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Sweet Bell Peppers
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Imported Nectarines
  7. Grapes
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Domestic Blueberries
  12. Potatoes

It is important to note that many of these are staples in growing kids’ diets, so reducing the amount of pesticide exposure by buying organic is an investment in future health well worth making. Thankfully, Trader Joe’s keeps us stocked on the organic apples, strawberries, potatoes and grapes my kids rely on. Hopefully, you can find organic versions nearby in Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or at your local market.

If not, ask your local farmers how they raise their produce. Many small farms follow organic practices but have not gone through time consuming (and expensive for a small farm) practice of becoming certified as organic. Ask the farmers at your local farmer’s market about their practices: farmers following organic practices will be excited to tell you about it.

In 2012, the Dirty Dozen also included a special category, citing two crops that didn’t make the top twelve offenders but posed other health concerns. These vegetables, green beans and leafy greens such as kale and collard greens, were commonly found to be contaminated with a highly toxic organophosphate insecticide that has been shown to be toxic to the nervous system.

While the insecticide is not used frequently any more, it has not been banned, so it is still allowed on food crops and green beans and leafy greens were often found to contain this pesticide. For this reason, these items should always be purchased organic. And always wash your produce, whether it is conventional or organic. Soaking in a citrus veggie wash or a bath of baking soda and a little vinegar will help remove residues that remain on the skin.

Keep in mind that products made from these crops will also contain the pesticide residues, so if you buy any pre-made product containing that fruit or vegetable, you will want to buy organic as well. This is especially true for the products kids so enjoy such as juices and jellies.

Lastly, if you enjoy grapes or grape products, there is an added concern: grape growers in the US use a fluoride-based spray and grape juices, jellies and yes, even California wines, were found to have excessive fluoride contaminant levels. Fluoride may be fine on top of your teeth but is not meant to be ingested (just read the warning on young kids’ toothpaste boxes).

Because many of us already consume excessive amounts through our water supply if you don’t have a water filter on all your faucets, this is something we really need to try to avoid. So look for organic versions of these products whenever possible. (European wine makers do not use this fluoride-based spray and so do not have the same concern).

If you want to see the list see the Environmental Working Group website. They also offer a
downloadable version for your phone, or if you make a donation to
help support their work, they will send you a pocked guide you can keep in your
Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at www.IngerPols.com

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