Try to Avoid the Dirty Dozen
Each year the Environmental Working Group publishes its annual Dirty Dozen list. The guide takes 48 common and popular vegetables and fruits and ranks them according to the “dirtiest” of the bunch. By analyzing 32,000 samples that have been tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and
Drug Administration, those common fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide residue present are uncovered.
2014 was the fourth year in a row that apples were the most pesticide-laden produce, followed by strawberries, single grapes and celery. Peaches, whole spinach, bell peppers, nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes all made the Dirty Dozen list in 2014. Every year the Environmental Working Group publishes its findings at www.ewg.org, including the cleanest fruits and vegetables, which we will cover next.
Get Plenty of The Clean 15
Eating for nutrition while sticking to a budget means avoiding pesticides and other possibly dangerous chemicals that can make their way into your food.
The Environmental Working Group list we just mentioned highlighted some fruits and vegetables which you want to wash very thoroughly before eating, or avoid altogether. However, there is a flip-side to that research.
The Clean 15 highlights which fruits and vegetables of the top 48 tested proved to be the cleanest, showing a presence of the fewest possible pesticides. Kicking off that list in 2014 were avocados, sweet corn, a whole pineapple, fresh cabbage and frozen peas. Also making the list as clean food were onions, asparagus, mangoes, papaya, cantaloupe, kiwi, eggplant, grapefruit, cauliflower and sweet potatoes. As mentioned above, check the official www.ewg.org website each year for an updated list.
Grow Your Own
When you grow your own fresh garden produce, you control everything. You can make sure you use pesticide and chemical-free soil and seeds, and there is absolutely nothing that tastes better than fresh fruits and vegetables grown right in your backyard or on your patio.
If you live in a small apartment or home, wonderful books like Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew allow you to take advantage of each and every inch of available gardening space you have. Growing your own backyard produce provides so many different rewards, and is definitely a healthy, budget-friendly tip as well.
When Purchasing Meat, Buy Half, Whole Animals
Competition is fierce in the food industry, and this frequently leads to local butchers offering discounts as much as 25% or 50% when you purchase meat in bulk. Consider teaming up with a couple of friends to split the cost of a quarter, half or whole animal.
As an example, frequently you may have to spend as much as $15 to $18 per pound on a choice cut of steak. That same exact piece can result in a cost of just $5 to $7 per pound when purchased in a typical one-half cow package.
Meat is going to be much more expensive than fruits and vegetables, and choosing to buy in bulk here means a larger one time investment, but the savings over time per pound are extreme.
Don’t Forget the Versatile Chicken
A recent web search on Google for “chicken recipes” turned up more than 179 million results. From soups to sandwiches, salads to casseroles, the inexpensive chicken is extremely versatile. Usually costing much less per pound than beef, lamb and pork, chicken is the basis for many healthy meals.
One cup of diced or chopped chicken delivers just 306 calories, and only 94 mg of sodium. On the plus side, that single cup of chicken delivers approximately 70% of your daily protein requirement, as well as 15% of the vitamin B6 you need every day. Chicken also offers vitamin A, calcium, iron and magnesium, and is available year-round.
For Eggs, Go Local
If you can find farmers offering eggs from pasture hens, these are the healthiest eggs you can buy. When you go straight to your local farmer and cut out the middleman, these ultra-healthy eggs wind up costing you less than pastured eggs at your nearby specialty health food store. If you don’t know what farmers are located near you, check out LocalHarvest.org.
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