Picking Fruits and Veggies (Emily)

I’ve been M.I.A. for a while but for good reason! I’ve been enjoying a belated honeymoon in Belize but now I’m back!! I have several posts I’ll be putting up as soon as I find the time. They’ll cover the AMAZING food I at in Belize at the hotel we stayed at. Before I forget, however, I wanted to post a little something about fruit and veggies.

My husband and I buy all of our produce at a market called Chesapeake’s Bounty in St. Leonard, Maryland. Actually we also get all of our meat there, and have started buying our milk there as well. The only time we get produce at the typical grocery store is if I’m short on time and need it for a recipe since the Bounty is 15 minutes from our house.

When selecting produce to sell, Chesapeake’s Bounty always strives for organic, locally grown, sometimes from the on-site garden right there at the market.  However, that is not always possible in the off-season and according to their website, off-season produce typically comes from “small, quality growers in Florida.” And of course if you ever want to know exactly where something came from, they are more than happy to let you know.

That being said, of course I’d love it if my produce was organic all the time, but I know that not always going to happen and I know Chesapeake Bounty’s mission and philosophy and I’m comfortable with them picking the best quality produce.

Now…the reason for me saying all of this is to lead up to bananas. Chesapeake’s Bounty doesn’t have bananas so I always buy them at the grocery store and think nothing of it. Until Now.

While in Belize, my husband and I did a Mayan ruin tour. On the way to the ruins, the tour guide took us buy a small banana farm to show us the process of growing and picking the bananas since bananas are an export from Belize to the U.S.  The little setup was small and open-air. As in, the workers are separating the bananas and cleaning them and packaging them basically under a pavilion set up next to acres and acres of banana trees.

Here’s the process, according to our tour guide.

1. When a bunch of bananas forms on a tree, the workers go into the field and cover each of the bunches with a blue bag that is full of pesticides. The bananas continue to grow in this bag.

2. Once the bunch is fully grown, the bananas are harvested and brought to the pavilion.

3. Workers at the pavilion put the bananas through a chlorine bath.

And that’s about the time that I stopped listening. There’s more to the process but that’s all I needed to know. First the bananas grow in a bag of pesticides. And then they go through a chlorine bath.

Granted, not all of our bananas are coming from Belize, but you think the process is any better anywhere else?? Doubtful.

It’s scary to find out where your food comes from sometimes. But even  scarier to not know.

I have a feeling that because of the hard skin of a banana, it probably tests low in pesticides when all is said and done, but just knowing the process has done a psychological number on my brain.

In a related note – organic fruit and veggies can be pricey. Sometimes it’s not necessarily worth it to break the bank. Environmental Working Group came out with a list of the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15.” Basically the  “Dirty Dozen” is a list of 12 fruits/veggies that they recommend buying organic because these tend to absorb pesticides, and therefore test high in them when pesticides are used. The “Clean 15” is a list of fruits/veggies that test low in pesticides, so it’s not necessarily important to spend the money buying these organic.

Check the two lists out here.

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