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Which Fruits and Veggies are in the New Dirty Dozen?

We often hear that organic produce is "cleaner" than conventional (non-organic) produce and free of pesticides; however, organic remains more expensive and isn't available everywhere.

Which conventional fruits and vegetables contain more pesticide residue? Which ones have the least?

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently completed an analysis of conventional produce to measure pesticide residue levels. Based on the results of almost 34,000 samples taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and federal Food and Drug Administration. Samples were tested after being washed or peeled, to mimic what consumers would do. Therefore, unwashed and unpeeled produce would likely contain even more concentrations of pesticide residues.

Eating the twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables, referred to as “The Dirty Dozen,” exposes the average person to about 15 different pesticides each day, while someone eating the least contaminated will be exposed to fewer than two pesticides each day. (To see the full list, go here).

The Dirty Dozen: Top 12 Foods to Buy Organic

If you have budget constraints, your money is doing more for your health when you put it towards organic varieties of the following fruits and vegetables (listed in descending order, starting with greatest levels pesticide contamination):

1. Apples
2. Peaches
3. Nectarines
4. Strawberries
5. Grapes
6. Celery
7. Spinach
8. Sweet Bell Peppers
9. Cucumbers
10. Cherry Tomatoes
11. Imported Snap Peas
12. Potatoes

The Clean 15: Save Your Money & Buy Conventional

If going totally organic is too difficult or pricey, play it safe and eat the following conventional produce items to minimize your exposure. These are known to have the least amount of pesticide residue (listed in ascending order, starting with of lowest levels of pesticide contamination):

1. Avocados
2. Sweet corn
3. Pineapples
4. Cabbage
5. Frozen sweet peas
6. Onions
7. Asparagus
8. Mangoes
9. Papayas
10. Kiwis
11. Eggplant
12. Grapefruit
13. Cantalope
14. Cauliflower
15. Sweet potatoes

To see receive a PDF version of the guides, you can sign up for the EWG's newsletter here).

When eating conventional foods, be certain to peel away edible skins and outer leaves (such as those on lettuce) as pesticides are often concentrated there. Remember to wash all produce (conventional and organic) thoroughly with a natural fruit and vegetable cleanser. Peeling and washing can help reduce (not eliminate) pesticide exposure, but also results in the loss of valuable vitamins and nutrients (like fiber). When you have the choice between an organic item and one that’s conventionally grown, choose organic as much as possible. 

For more information on eating organic foods on a budget, read this article.

I keep a copy of this list on a note in my phone, and I consult it when I go to the grocery store.

Do you have "priorities" when buying organic? Do you follow this list?

Last updated in September 2015

Posted 9/28/2015  2:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 114 comments   25,769 views
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FDA Snack Attack: Are Kind Bars Unhealthy?

At least four types of Kind Bars are in violation of the FDA's "healthy-labeling" requirements. The problem? Too much saturated fat. The FDA is considering pulling the bars from grocery shelves until Kind changes the labeling to meet the requirements.

Will you continue to buy Kind Bars?

The FDA has found that at least 4 types of Kind Bars are in violation of the FDA's "healthy-labeling" requirements... in SparkPeople's Hangs on LockerDome

Posted 4/16/2015  9:00:00 AM By: Melinda Hershey : 27 comments   13,338 views
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People 'Half Their Size' Issue Features SparkPeople Member's 177-Pound Weight Loss *

People magazine has just released a new "Half Their Size" issue, and this one is bigger and better than ever. The entire publication is dedicated to weight loss and featured some amazing success stories along with various diet plans, workout plans and healthy recipes for ideas and inspiration.
We are thrilled to announce that a long-time SparkPeople member, Brandy (BBANGEL1214), is featured in the issue. Brandy credits the supportive online Community at SparkPeople as making a big difference in her 177-pound weight loss. Way to go, Brandy!
We recently caught up with Brandy to celebrate her magazine debut. Here's what shared some tips from her journey to losing more than half her weight.
Posted 6/6/2014  5:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 38 comments   31,261 views
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Just How Healthy Are Burger King's New Low-Cal 'Satisfries'?

A few weeks ago, Burger King started heavily promoting its latest menu offering called Satisfries, which are formulated to have 40% less fat than the leading fast food French fry (from McDonald's). We decided to try the fries, than take a close look at the ingredients and nutrition facts to discover whether these fries are as healthy as they seem.
Posted 10/4/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Megan Patrick : 48 comments   35,257 views
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The 12 Most Inspiring Quotes from Diana Nyad

It may have taken her five tries and 35 years, but 64-year-old Diana Nyad never gave up on her goal and her dream of swimming the 103 miles of Florida Straits, from Cuba to Florida, without a shark cage.

She tried to make the swim the first time in 1978 but wasn’t successful, so she moved on with her life and pursued other interests. However, after turning 60 and losing her mother, the dream came alive again, as she explains in this TED talk from October 2011. 
Posted 9/4/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 35 comments   34,941 views
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Should Obesity Be Classified as a Disease?

Yesterday, at their annual meeting, the American Medical Association decided to classify obesity as a disease. They hope this change will help doctors to better treat the complex condition and aid in the fight against type 2 diabetes and heart disease. While The New York Times reports that the AMA's decision has no legal authority, some medical professionals think the outcome will result in sweeping changes. 
Posted 6/19/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Megan Patrick : 138 comments   24,846 views
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What is Your True Size?

I don’t know about you, but for the past several years clothes shopping has become more of a headache than the nice enjoyable activity it once was. Sadly, for me the fun is long gone and is replaced with countless hours of frustrations. There was once a time I could go into any store, pick something right off the rack, make a purchase and go home. But not today. That would be too easy.

Like a hunter searching for his prey, I head out early in the morning just as the stores are opening while I still have the energy for what I presume to be a day long mission. After trying pants after pants, hour after hour, store after store, I find myself literally worn out heading home more times than not dejected and empty handed.

While the styles and trends do count for many of my frustrations--I am not a BIG fan of the low rise trend--just finding a size has become a chore. In one store I can easily be a size 4, in another a size 6, and yet another I could wear a size 8. And let’s not even talk about online purchases without knowing beforehand my size in a store. Why is that?

Well the answer lies within a sales tactic that clothing manufacturers discreetly call vanity sizing.
Posted 5/24/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Nancy Howard : 704 comments   58,554 views
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Do Packaged Diet Foods Really Result in Better Weight Loss?

A recent study published in the April 2013 issue of the International Journal of Obesity examined whether people would lose more weight on their own (sticking to a prescribed calorie goal) or by eating pre-packaged diet foods that totaled the same number of daily calories. The story was picked up by news outlets with eye-catching headlines like "Packaged diet foods may spur more weight loss," (Reuters).

Sounds pretty good, right? We thought so, too. So we dug a little deeper to bring out the real truth. 

Posted 5/11/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Megan Patrick : 43 comments   24,942 views
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What Motivates You to Exercise?

It's no secret that there are many people who don't like to exercise for one reason or another, but at the same time, there are many others that really enjoy it. Why is there such a love it or hate it attitude towards exercise? There are numerous answers to that question and some might say that they had a really bad past experience, they find it boring and haven't found something that is enjoyable, or they may not see the instant gratification (weight loss) that they are looking for when it comes to exercise. As many of you know, what motivates one person to do something may not work for the next person. 
Posted 5/10/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Denise Tausig : 297 comments   34,879 views
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The 10 Healthiest Foods You've Never Tried

I recently saw a list of the 10 Healthiest Foods You've Never Tried. I pride myself on being an adventurous (mostly vegetarian) eater. When I saw the list, I was excited to see how many I'd eaten.

How many have you eaten?
Posted 3/10/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 687 comments   156,399 views
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McDonald's Posting Nutrition Info in All Restaurants

Our daughter spent this past summer serving customers at our local McDonald's. She observed many patrons trying to make healthier choices by selecting oatmeal for breakfast or skipping the fries at dinner. During her work, she helped McDonald's highlight lower calories options as she promoted options from their new Favorites Under 400 menu.
To demonstrate their commitment to improved nutrition, McDonald's has published a nutrition progress report for the first time.  Now McDonald's has taken another step in information sharing. Learn about important tidbits of information that can help make nutrient wise selections even easier next time you are selecting Food on the Run.
Posted 10/1/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 41 comments   12,386 views
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Schools Putting Healthier Lunch Options into Action

As you know, earlier this year First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the new National School Lunch Program nutrition standards. Since more students eat school lunch compared to school breakfast, schools first started to implement the new standards with school lunches.
Perhaps your family has incorporated tips that help you pack a nutrient-rich lunch for your children to take to school. Hopefully you have found a month worth of fun and healthy lunch ideas your children enjoy to help take the hassle out of packing school lunches. However, if you have a teenager like mine who doesn't want anything to do with packed lunches anymore, selecting a school lunch may be part of his or her daily routine.
It seems many school districts did major overhauls of their school lunch menu offerings over the summer to improve the nutritional quality offered to students this school year. I know there are many new changes in our son's school. Here is a sample of the types of new school lunch offerings popping up in school districts around the country.
Posted 9/24/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 16 comments   7,093 views
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Poll: Should Physical Inactivity Be Considered a Medical Condition?

Over the years as technology has advanced and made it easier for us to sit more throughout the day, humans in general have become less active. This continued inactivity has lead to increasing obesity trends, along with other ailments such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc. Like I mentioned in a previous blog, "many people might find that they spend 8+ hours sitting at work and then come home and sit some more, whether it is to watch TV or for some other sedentary activity."
Posted 9/13/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 87 comments   17,395 views
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Should You Believe the 'Organic Isn't Healthier' Study?

It's been all over the news this week: A new study conducted by researchers from Stanford University, and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, finds little evidence that organic foods are any healthier than conventionally grown foods.
If you've been shelling out the extra cash for organic (which does cost more than conventional in most cases), you may feel as if you've been duped!
Before you wallow in all of your wasted dollars, let's stop and think: Could this really be true?
Don't put those pesticide-free carrots back on the shelf just yet! Like any study, it's important to read past the attention-grabbing news headlines and think critically about the information being presented. If you ask me, this study (and its news coverage) is questionable.
Posted 9/7/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 143 comments   28,327 views
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How Prevalent is Obesity in Your State?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), adult obesity rates have doubled over the past two decades. With more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) being classified as obese, the nutritional state of our nation is not strong.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has released new information for self –reported obesity rates among states. Colorado (20.7%) wins the prize for the state with the lowest prevalence of obesity while Mississippi (34.9%) has the highest. Overall, adult obesity prevalence across the U.S. in 2011 continues to vary by region. The South has the highest percentage of obesity prevalence (29.5%) while the Western part of the nation has the lowest (24.3%) prevalence. See if your state made the healthiest or the heaviest top 10 list.
Posted 9/3/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 27 comments   9,417 views
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