As everyone needs water to survive, everyone also needs fresh fruits and vegetables to thrive. Some diets are based almost entirely on fresh produce, other diets see a slice of tomato or a sprig of parsley as an accidental detail. However, everyone can benefit from eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. Whether you're filing them into a sub sandwich between meats, lining them into short hedges along a cobb salad, or eating them plain & raw, fruits and veggies are good and necessary in any real, wholesome diet.
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with desirable vitamins, minerals, fiber and water. Also to varying degrees they contain protein, carbohydrates and fat. Simply prepared fruits and vegetables are considered to be a cornerstone to any wholesome diet and are exemplary e.a.r.t.h.foods.
An ongoing debate has been whether organically grown produce is superior or not in nutrition compared to conventionally grown produce. The results are broadly inconclusive and anyone can find articles and studies to support whether paying extra for organic produce is what they really want to do or not.
I believe that organically grown produce is more nutritious and worth the extra cost. Grown in a richly diverse soil medium in a field that has been rotated and not sprayed with toxic & biodiversity-stripping chemicals, a fruit or vegetable surely will yield more faceted nutrition. Simply arriving to you without a layer of toxic surface chemicals is a vote for organic, in my opinion.
I also believe that eating conventionally grown produce is better than eating no produce at all! There is little benefit to being an organic purist and foregoing conventional produce if organic is too expensive or unavailable. Eat your fruits and veggies no matter what!
If the added expense of the organic label poses an issue, avoiding the Dirty Dozen most contaminated items will help shoppers prioritize which are the most toxic fruits and vegetables to avoid and which can safely be purchased conventionally. (A more extensive EWG list is here .)
In addition to spending extra money for your health, you are also supporting an industry that helps protect the planet's health (soil, water, air) and the health of the field and processing workers when buying organic.
But there's a catch. (Of course.)
Is an organic peach from Chile "better" than a conventionally grown peach from Georgia if I'm shopping in South Carolina, all things considered?
That's tougher than a math class word problem.
Because the philosophy behind e.a.r.t.h.food entails concern for individual and planetary health, I have struggled to come to terms with this conundrum. This is what I've concluded for myself: I would choose the conventional peach from Georgia because the pollution caused by shipping those peaches from Chile is more harmful to the planet than the toxic chemicals of a conventional peach are to my body. Right now the planet is less healthy than I am. My personal diet consists mostly of plant foods and I feel that I am constantly cleansing and detoxing at a rate sustainable to my intake of toxins. I'll wash that peach thoroughly, be grateful for it and trust that my body will be nourished by it.
The ideal solution would be to find some locally grown South Carolina peaches from a small (perhaps organic) farm in their peak season. Do I need to eat peaches in the middle of winter? If so, I can freeze or can some in the peak summer months to enjoy later in the year rather than rely on Chilean peaches.
On a side note, I'm aggravated by my local grocery store which has begun labeling everything "Locally Grown" if it's a product of the USA. This is such blatant greenwashing and should be outlawed. Be aware if your store is doing this too and complain about it in person or online.
In summary: Eat seasonally. Google your state and "what's in season" to get to know your regional food and growing cycles better. Eat organically when regionally and economically possible. View international produce as "luxury" items to buy once in a while, not on every shopping trip (think bananas). Eat your fruits & vegetables and simply as possible: raw, steamed, baked, dried....don't load them down with a bunch of junk.
Focus on Fruit
Focus on Vegetables - Part 1 (be sure to see Part 2 also)