Chemical free living isn’t just about the products we use in our homes; it’s also about what we put in our bodies. I’m constantly struggling to find healthy food sources in Singapore and with the skyrocketing prices of organic produce it’s very easy to get frustrated. So instead of getting overwhelmed (like I have in previous years), I decided to reach out to Liza Rowan, Founder of Health & Vitality to get some professional advice on how I can make healthier choices without breaking the bank or losing my sanity.
When my mother was growing up, an apple was simply just an apple. But today that is no longer the reality that we live in. Our food is shipped in from countries all over the world and each provider/farm has their own growing methods. Many of the fruit and vegetables that we buy at the local grocery store are actually filled with chemicals that can harm us and as Liza pointed out to me, these chemicals are even more harmful to children.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports children have “unique susceptibilities to [pesticide residues’] potential toxicity.” The pediatricians’ organisation cited research that linked pesticide exposures in early life and “pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioural problems.”
Thankfully there are some exceptions, as not all produce retains high levels of pesticides. Liza introduced me to the ‘Dirty Dozen, Clean Fifteen’. Basically the Dirty Dozen are produce that retain the most pesticides due to a combination of factors – how porous the skin is, the fat content, whether the fruit has a pit etc. So if you have a limited budget, invest your ‘organic dollars’ in food that falls into the Dirty Dozen list. On the other hand, the Clean Fifteen don’t hold onto many chemicals, so save your money and skip the organic isle when shopping for these.
Click here to view the most up to date lists. For 2016 strawberries, apples, nectarines, peaches and celery are at the top of the Dirty Dozen list while avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage and frozen sweet peas top the Clean Fifteen list.
Even with the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen list to lean on, removing chemicals from everything we eat is a daunting task. So here are Liza’s top three tips to help you switch to eating healthy, clean and chemical free food:
- Check nutrition labels – if there’s something there that you cannot pronounce, or don’t recognise, leave it on the shelf
- Prepare more foods at home – pack snacks and lunches for school, work and outings – using wholesome ingredients
- Appreciate that clean food and healthy living is what fuels your body, making you look and feel great. Learn about healthier choices, making positive changes one step at a time
One of my resolutions for 2017 builds off of all three of these tips. I want to reduce the amount of packaged food that I bring into my home and start cooking with more wholesome ingredients. It’s amazing how much better my family and I feel when we eat more whole foods. We save a ton of money going back to basics, plus it’s great for the environment, as we aren’t wasting as much packaging.
But, eating wholesome, chemical free food can be very expensive, so here are some tips from Liza to help you prioritize where you spend your organic dollars:
- Make sure to use organic produce when weaning babies and for toddlers – they are most susceptible to chemicals
- Foods that you and your family eat often – e.g. Apples are high on the dirty dozen list – buy organic bags of small apples, which are reasonably priced at Fair Price Finest and some of the organic providers. – Use the Dirty Dozen list as outlined above
- Organic dairy products are expensive, but rather than using a lot of dairy milk enjoy alternatives – fresh coconut or nut milks, coconut yogurt etc. – this way you also have a more varied diet (which means more nutrients) and are not over reliant on any on food type (which can increase the risk of allergies)
- Reduce portion sizes of meats and chicken – they are expensive when sustainably sourced – so get used to using reasonable portion sizes and perhaps go ‘meatless’ a few days a week
Still unsure of where to start? Check out Health & Vitality and attend one of Liza’s great courses on nutrition. She offers a large range of workshops and also offers cooking classes for domestic helpers.
“You have one body – love it
You have one life – live it”
– Liza Rowan