eating dangerously

recently, i've seen a number of lists online detailing potentially hazardous foods, from mercury-laden fish to pesticide-coated produce. i suspect that in small quantities, toxins in our food pose only minimal risk to us (at least, as fully-grown adults), though i do wonder about the cumulative effects of being exposed to so many different kinds of chemicals every day, from pesticides to PCBs, bisphenol A, and phthalates. From Sprig.com comes a list of the top "10 Most Dangerous Foods" that you might want to avoid, including farmed salmon, Chilean seabass, and conventionally-grown strawberries. there won't be anything surprising in their report to anyone already dedicated to eating locally grown, seasonal, and organic food -- but it is a good reminder of why it makes sense to avoid industrially-produced meat and produce, and to try to stick to what's in season (which, i'm afraid, means a lot of cabbage, kale, and potatoes all winter long!).

in somewhat more detail, FoodNews.org has published in-depth data on the levels of pesticides found in many common fruits and vegetables, in part to highlight which items you should buy organically if you can't afford to stop buying conventional produce altogether. i would argue, though, that at least much of the year you should be able to find many good fruits and vegetables available locally and in season, particularly at farmer's markets -- which are often pesticide-free if not certified organic. given the price of certifying farms under the USDA's current organic program, many farmers use organic techniques but can't label their produce officially so, which means it's always worth asking the farmer directly if you can.

vegetables in their season are more likely to taste better and not need to travel from as far away, even if that means no fresh tomatoes or asparagus in the winter months. i tend to solve this by stocking up on canned and dried goods, and focusing on dishes made with dried beans, cured meats and fishes, whole grains, and hardy winter vegetables (or fall vegetables that store well). fortunately, the one thing that does come into season this time of year is citrus, so enjoy all the blood oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit!

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