Clean Cuisine

Dubbed the "dirty dozen" by foodnews.org, these are the 12 most heavily pesticided crops in our food supply. To avoid potentially harmful chemicals, always buy these fruits and veggies organic.

1 - Apple

Peak Season: September—November
What to Look For: When selecting apples, consider how you'll use them and which varieties grow best in your area. Your best bet? Ask the grower about each variety, taste as many types as you can, then try them in recipes.
Quick Tip:To prevent raw apple slices from browning before they're served, toss them in a little fresh lemon juice.

apple

2 - Celery

Peak Season: November—May
What to Look For: Firm stalks that aren't too thick or stringy. Stalks should be pale to bright green, and tips and stem end should not be too brown. There should be no spotting or browning on stalks.
quick tip: Recrisp limp celery stalks by standing them up in a glass of water in the fridge.

celery

3 - Strawberries

Peak Season: June—August
What to Look For: Should be firm, plump, and dark red, with a sweet, strawberry scent.
quick tip: Strawberries can bring a bright flavor surprise to crisp greens. Romaine lettuce, mixed baby greens, or spinach salads are especially good with sliced strawberries.

strawberry

4 - Peaches

Peak Season: June—August
What to Look For: Look for peaches that are fragrant, have a golden undercolor, and flesh that gives slightly when pressed.
quick tip: To add a refreshing twist to fish, poultry, or pork, top them with a salsa made from chopped peaches, onion, peppers, tomatoes, lime juice, and cilantro.

peaches

5 - Spinach

Peak Season: September—November
What to Look For: Leaves should be green and crisp, with no yellowing, bruising, or wilting.
quick tip: Cook spinach quickly—no more than a minute or two. It's great blanched, steamed, or sautéed.

spinach

6 - Grapes

Peak Season: July—December
What to Look For:Examine the stems. "If the stems are green and pliable, it's the best sign the grapes are fresh," says James Howard, vice president of the California Table Grape Commission.
quick tip: Purplish-blue Concord grapes are ideal for making juice, jams, and jellies.

grapes

7 - Nectarines

Peak Season: May—September
What to Look For: A ripe nectarine will have a faint ambrosial aroma, and the skin will yield slightly to pressure.
quick tip: There's no need to peel a nectarine as you might a peach. A nectarine's smooth surface makes it easy to cook, and its skin contains an abundance of nutrients.

nectarine

8 - Sweet Bell Peppers

Peak Season: July—November
What to Look For: When selecting peppers, choose ones that are wrinkle-free and feel heavy.
quick tip: Bell peppers are great stuffed or roasted, but they can also be puréed with garlic and onion to make a tangy alternative to tomato-based pizza sauce.

yellow pepper

9 - Potatoes

Peak Season: May—September
What to Look For: Choose potatoes that are firm, relatively smooth, and free of moisture or dry rot. They should have no "sprouting" on the surface, and if there's a green tinge to the skin, toss 'em back.
quick tip: Cook and eat potatoes with their skins on. Not only does the skin contain many vital nutrients, but also a generous helping of dietary fiber.

potatoes

10 - Blueberries

Peak Season: June—August
What to Look For: Dark, plump berries with a whitish bloom. Avoid blueberries with pinkish rings at the stem; they aren't quite ripe.
quick tip: Blend ½ cup blueberries, ½ cup low-fat plain yogurt, and a splash of orange juice together for a quick breakfast smoothie.

blueberries

11 - Lettuce

Peak Season: March—October
What to Look For: Bright-colored leaves that aren't falling off the head. Turn the lettuce over to check the stem; a reddish-brown color is a sign that it has been in cold storage a while.
quick tip: When storing lettuce, make sure that your refrigerator isn't too cold. Lettuce freezes easily, and once frozen, it's ruined.

lettuce

12 - Kale

Peak Season: September—February
What to Look For: Firm leaves with no yellowing. Curly kale should have a whitish bloom to its color; dinosaur or Lacinato kale should be dark green.
quick tip: Cooking kale helps release its beneficial antioxidants, but don't overdo it. Your best bet is to lightly steam until it's soft, but still crisp.

kale

The Clean 15

According to foodnews.org, these are the 15 "cleanest" crops, which are grown using the fewest pesticides.

1. Onions

2. Corn

3. Pineapples

4. Avocado

5. Asparagus

6. Sweet peas

7. Mangoes

8. Eggplant

9. Cantaloupe

10. Kiwi

11. Cabbage

12. Watermelon

13. Sweet potatoes

14. Grapefruit

15. Mushrooms




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