Guest Post: 3 Tips for Picking Produce
Today’s guest post comes courtesy of Mira Calton, author of “Naked Calories” (featured in the current issue of Z-LIFE).
Fruits and vegetables deliver an amazing array of your micronutrients. In our book, Naked Calories, we show how these micronutrients, or essential vitamins and minerals, can help you to build a strong immune system, think clearly, build strong bones and muscles, even prevent diseases and lose weight. However, not all produce is created equal. So, today we are going to offer you three tips to help you to make the wisest choices when making your produce purchases. Our goals are to teach readers how to increase the amount of those essential micronutrients we all need to stay healthy , and how to avoid toxic pesticides and genetically modified frankenfoods, all while saving you some of your hard earned cash.
Tip 1: Know the Numbers.
When you are shopping in the produce section of your grocery store you need to know the numbers. That’s right! There is a secret code that you need to break in order to know how to choose the healthiest fruits and vegetables. On many of the fruits and vegetables in your grocery store, from the apples to the zucchini, you will find a small sticker with a 4 or 5 digit code on it. This is called the PLU code and the numbers on this little sticker mean more than you might imagine.
BEST: A 5-digit number that begins with a 9 means that your produce is organic. This guarantees that they are pesticide-free and have not been genetically modified.
GOOD: The majority of the produce will begin with the number 4. This means that it was grown conventionally. These foods may or may not be genetically modified.
CAUTION: A 5-digit PLU code that begin with 8 identifies the food as being genetically modified. It is important however to note that not all GM foods will be labeled with a PLU code beginning with an 8 as this is optional and is still not mandated by the government.
Tip 2: Carry the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15.
Buying all organic produce at the grocery store can get expensive … but did you know that you don’t have to? This is because the Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a list every year comparing the pesticide residue on numerous fruits and vegetables. At the end of all of their research, they compile two lists called The Dirty Dozen and The Clean 15. These lists can really help you to save money. By shopping with these lists in hand, you can buy the foods on the Dirty Dozen (those found to have the most pesticide residue) organically and save money by buying the foods found on the Clean 15 (found to be safest and most pesticide free) conventionally. Make sure to download your copy of the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 and make shopping for pesticide free produce part of your new health plan.
Tip 3: Step out of the store.
Sometimes your best option when searching for produce isn’t the grocery store. In fact, when considering micronutrient content it is best to buy local. Every minute of every mile that your food travels to your table counts because each minute your food comes into contact with heat, air and light it loses it’s essential life-enhancing vitamins and minerals. So, why spend the extra dough for the out-of-season, out-of-micronutrients produce? Instead, why not head down to the local farmers market? Not only is it a great family outing, but you’ll find the foods that are in season and filled with the greatest amount of vitamins and minerals. And because the farmers don’t have to spend all their money transporting their foods long distances, you will also find some fantastic savings.
Additionally, you can ask the farmers if they grow pesticide free and if they use genetically modified seeds. This allows you to build a relationship with these local produce heroes and keep your money in your community as well. To find a local market in your area check out our resource center.
With 1, 2 and 3… it is time to go shopping!
Ok, with tips in hand you should be well on your way to picking peppers, buying bananas and chopping your chilis in the healthiest way possible! Just remember, that you are what you eat. If you fill your body with the most micronutrient rich foods possible, while avoiding as many toxins and GM foods along the way your body will reward you with natural energy and optimal health. You can do it, and we are here to help.For more information on the health benefits micronutrient sufficient lifestyle, go to CaltonNutrition.com.