Slow Foods For Low IncomesJune 16th, 2011
Like many health-conscious Americans, I try my best to eat generous portions of fresh fruits and veggies every day. We’ve all been told time and time again how important fresh produce is to healthy living — but how many people, like myself, feel frustrated by emerging reports about the toxicity of pesticides used on the same fruits and veggies that are supposed to be keeping us healthy? I do try to buy organic produce as often as I can, but this can get discouragingly expensive. I find myself trying to pick and choose what produce is best bought organic and what conventionally grown items I can still buy without to much concern. All this in an effort to keep both diet and checkbook balanced…but how in all this headache do I know which foods to buy organic and which have the lowest levels of pesticides?
Here’s a helpful tool created by the Environmental Working Group, an advocate for stricter pesticide controls, to help concerned shoppers like myself decipher what foods I should choose to buy organic. They’ve organized groups of popular fruits and veggies into the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean 15″, with apples, celery, and strawberries coming in at the top of the “Buy Organic” list and onions, sweet corn, and pineapples being the safest of the pesticide-grown group.
Even with helpful tools like this, navigating the grocery store and cooking a healthy meal can seem like daunting tasks for many of our patients who lack the resources and the education to do so. While I might struggle to decide between types of produce, many of our patients are unable to purchase fresh foods at all due to their fixed or limited income. At St. Anthony Medical Clinic we strive to bridge that gap and help patients access the foods they need while arming them with the tools necessary to make prudent, healthy food choices. Here at The Clinic, we offer cooking classes and a fresh fruits and veggies program to connect our patients with fresh, organic or locally grown foods and the skills patients need to prepare them. We offer nutrition counseling, weight management counseling and even provide patients with bags of fresh groceries during our Diabetes Outliers Days and Asthma Outliers Days. We help patients understand nutrition labels and how to plan menus that accommodate their specific health needs. It is our goal to improve the health of our community; we do this in part by striving to ensure all our patients have access to fresh produce and the knowledge to prepare delicious and healthy meals for themselves and their families.