Be Light and Healthy

Freedom of Choice

Posted on: July 3, 2011

Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed – else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

As we celebrate Independence Day in the United States, I am grateful for the freedoms we enjoy.  Though we face challenges in modern-day America, I choose to believe that the optimism and “can do” spirit of her citizens will ultimately prevail.  When I ponder what a small group of passionate patriots was able to accomplish 235 years ago to establish this country, I am filled with hope for our future.  

Americans are slowly awakening to the healthcare crisis that has been inflicted upon society by the food and drug industries.  The greed and hubris of these industries have contributed to the waning health of Americans.  I was a lemming following societal norms.  Eleven years ago I was 100 pounds overweight, surviving on a junk food diet, and never exercising.  I thought going on medication as I got older was inevitable and normal.  I had been overweight since I was a child and believed the media reports indicating it was impossible to lose weight and keep it off.  I was pushing 40 and becoming concerned about the future of my health.  Fortunately, I saw an interview with Dr. Andrew Weil on TV where he recounted his own journey.  He successfully lost weight and transformed his health by making small lifestyle changes and believed others could too.  I was ready to hear Dr. Weil’s gentle message and encouraged by his belief that others could make sustainable lifestyle changes.  One of his suggestions was to try eating produce in an attempt to incorporate it into your lifestyle.            

I am an example of the many Americans who are awakening and accepting responsibility for their own health.  There is encouraging evidence of it in the growth of stores like Whole Foods Market and the organic foods industry.  Individuals and grassroots organizations are attempting to educate society about the many benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. 

Environmental Working Group is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1993 with the intention of protecting public health and the environment by using the power of public information.  In June EWG’s 2011 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides was updated.  The Guide includes the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” lists.  The “Dirty Dozen” are the most contaminated types of produce; whereas, the “Clean 15” are the least contaminated: 

The Dirty Dozen – Most Contaminated

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines – International
  7. Grapes – International
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries – Domestic
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/collard greens

The Clean 15 – Least Contaminated

  1. Onions
  2. Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplant
  9. Cantaloupe – Domestic
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms

Though it isn’t always convenient or affordable to buy organic produce, being aware of the most contaminated produce allows you to make intelligent choices when spending your money.  Even small changes are beneficial and will help reduce the amount of contamination in your body due to consumption of toxins.  For convenience, a handy pocket guide of the lists can be downloaded here.   

I used to think twice about purchasing fresh produce due to the price until I realized that I never hesitated to spend money on processed foods and less healthy options.  Years ago I never considered the expense of a hot fudge sundae or the donut I automatically bought with my coffee.  Once I paused and thought about it, I realized that produce with all its antioxidants, fiber, and overall health benefits was a far wiser purchase.  The additional expense associated with organic produce, especially the most contaminated items, is well worth it.  Eating conventionally grown produce is still a better option than foregoing produce altogether because most processed foods are full of chemicals and pesticides.  I now view purchasing healthy, fresh foods as an investment in our health.  I’d rather spend the money on healthy food than on conventional medical costs.      

It’s also important to realize that many local farms cannot afford to obtain the necessary certifications that allow them to market their produce as organic.  However, it is worth inquiring to determine their processes because it is possible they are minimizing their use of pesticides and promoting natural controls.  Take the time to stop by local vegetable stands and farmers’ markets to determine if they are a good resource.  In addition, be sure to wash all produce.  The increasing awareness by consumers of the healthier options available to us is encouraging.  By choosing to spend our money on improved choices, we will facilitate the growth of healthier options and make this country and its citizens stronger.  The media constantly reports on the demise of Americans’ health, but I encounter more and more people who have started making small changes in their food and lifestyle choices in an attempt to get healthier.

I invite you to continue making small changes to improve your health and exercise your freedom of choice.  Re-frame your perception of the costs associated with buying fresh and organic produce by considering it an investment.  The costs will be recouped in a multitude of ways including good health, increased energy, and additional time.  Even small changes will provide health benefits and help propel you forward to further healthy lifestyle changes.  In addition, I invite you to sign up for weekly e-mail updates www.belightandhealthy.com to get informed and inspired to Be Light and Healthy.  When you sign up, you will receive an e-mail requesting you confirm your subscription.  After you confirm, you will begin receiving weekly updates.

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