Adore Apples? What You Must Know Before Taking (or Feeding Your Kid) Another Bite

There's nothing like a crisp, tart yet slightly sweet apple to awaken your taste buds and naturally boost your energy.

With their season in full swing, it's important to know apples are the most chemically-contaminated produce. In fact, conventional apples contain an average of 20 to 30 different chemicals (e.g., pesticides) even after washing. Some of the apples tested by the Environmental Working Group had up to 48 different types of pesticides on them. Yikes!

Go Organic
When it comes to apples, organic is the way to go.

This is especially important for children as they are more susceptible to the effects of pesticides and chemicals due to their size and developing brain and nervous systems.

I love to buy organic apples at the farmers' market. They're smaller than conventional ones and not always perfect looking, but their flavor and freshness can't be beat.

Not all growers are certified organic but use organic practices; be sure to ask. Because they save money on the certification process, they're able to sell their goods at a lower price.

A Smart Snack
For a well-balanced, satisfying snack--great for kids and adults alike--spread organic nut butter on apple slices. My favorite combo is a Pink Lady with almond butter.

Storage Tips
Apples ripen quickly at room temperature; 10 times faster than apples kept at 35-degrees F. Store them in the refrigerator away from strong-scented foods like cabbage or onions to prevent flavor transfer.

Speaking of cabbage and onions, check out the super simple, yummy recipe below.

Branch Out!
Did you know there are 7,500 apple varieties worldwide? Next time you're apple picking, try a new variety--and remember to always buy organic and locally grown whenever possible.

Sauteed Apples & Cabbage
A seriously simple, super-fast recipe for a healthy, sweet and savory side dish.

This is one of those recipes you can make to taste, using more or less of the following ingredients depending upon your preferences.

1 large yellow onion, cut in half and thinly slice
1-2 organic apples, cut in quarters, remove core and thinly slice
1 small head of cabbage, remove core and thinly shred
1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of red-wine vinegar, plus more to taste
Salt and pepper
1. Cook onions in oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat until tender, 5 to 8 minutes. (I like to let them caramelize a bit).

2. Add apples and cabbage and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. You may have to add a bit more oil at this point.

3. Stir in red wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Taste and add more vinegar, salt or pepper as needed.


Recipe adapted from Real Simple.

Are Your Strawberries Toxic?

A few years ago, I spent my summer volunteering on organic farms in Italy and on Vancouver Island. It was an experience I'll always treasure from planting tomatoes for the young couple who owned the Umbrian agriturismo to pulling hundreds of heads of garlic for the feisty chef who ran the island farmstay.

Days ended with dirt under my nails and delicious farm-to-table dinners shared with the crew, like Valdilia and her son Victor who lived on the farm.

In the garden with fellow gardener, Valdilia, and her son Victor. This shows just one-quarter of the entire garden we maintained for the farm-stay chef.

In the garden with fellow gardener, Valdilia, and her son Victor. This shows just one-quarter of the entire garden we maintained for the farm-stay chef.

A longtime advocate of organic food, this experience instilled in me an even deeper appreciation for organic farmers. With farmers' markets in full swing, it's the perfect time to remind you to buy organic whenever possible. Here's why, including the most and least toxic fruits and veggies:

Reduce Your Toxic Exposure
Did you know conventional strawberry growers use an average of 54 pesticides on their crops?

Pesticides are toxic by design. Their job is to kill living organisms like pests and fungi. Many have been linked to health problems such as brain and nervous system toxicity, birth defects, cancer, hormone disruption, diabetes, and skin, eye and lung irritation.

Infants and children are especially vulnerable due to their smaller size and developing bodies.

Protect Farmers and the Environment
When you buy organic, you're supporting environmentally friendly farming practices that safeguard workers, minimize soil erosion, and protect water quality and wildlife.

Meet Your Farmers
Organic certification is expensive so some farmers opt out yet still follow organic methods. Get to know your local growers and their practices.

Shop Smart
Organic fruits and veggies may not always accessible or affordable for you. You can often save money by buying local and seasonal produce.

The Environmental Working Group's nifty Shoppers' Guide will help you make the best choice given your circumstances. You can reduce your pesticide intake substantially by avoiding the most contaminated produce.

Dirty Dozen Plus
(highest in pesticides)

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Sweet bell peppers
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes (imported)
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Blueberries (domestic)
  12. Potatoes

Green beans

Clean 15
(lowest in pesticides)

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

Click here to get a phone app or downloadable file (PDF) from the Environmental Working Group.

*Most corn is genetically modified. If you're concerned about GMO foods, buy organic.

Source: Environmental Working Group