The Dirty Dozen

Well, they don't make up a dozen in this picture, but they sure are dirty!The other three who choked on dust that day could not be bothered to pose for this photo when they came in from the field, despite the enthusiastic invitation from my cheerful, clean self! Go figure.....

This picture was taken after the crew got back in from picking potatoes. For those of you that don’t know where potatoes come from, they are tubers that grow underground. I read about a college edumacated woman who was excited to grow her first garden. The potato plants grew well, spreading their leaves wide and high. Potato flowers abounded. She was pleased. Excited. Then all the fun stopped as the leaves all withered up and died, as if on cue. And not a single potato had sprung forth! A few weeks later, dejected, she dug up the potato bed. Imagine her surprise, and delight when she discovered hundreds of potatoes!

That just goes to show why sometimes in these times it’s best to let a farmer do the farming.

But I digress. So my colleagues in the photo above were lucky enough to start their shift at 6:35 am on potato-picking day. They loaded up the potato baskets onto the back of the truck, hopped on, and headed out to the potato field, where the tractor lay waiting, ready to pull a machine that turns over the earth to reveal the potatoes below. The lucky farm crew got to walk behind this machine, bending over to pick up the little Colorado Roses, Russian Bananas, and Red Thumbs in all their tender newness.

The Colorado Roses, Russian Bananas, and Red Thumbs are as popular with chefs at local restaurants as they are with family foodies. Get the last of them while you can!

By 7:30, it was about 87 degrees and the sun was already blazing. Being that the Eastern Shore was officially in drought, that earth was pretty parched. When turned, it kicked up quite the dust cloud, so our farm crew that day was quite literally eating more than their fair share of dirt.

It was 2pm when all was said and done. I think they look like a fairly content bunch, given their lot in life that day, don’t you?

That’s probably because they were eating clean dirt. Not the nasty pesticide kind. See, there’s another kind of Dirty Dozen, and it refers to food. Food that can be potentially really bad for you when grown “conventionally” because of the bad pesticides. Foods that really should only be consumed if they’re organic.

The US government’s Environmental Working Group came up with this list last year, based on the finding from 87,000 government tests. In short, they are the conventionally grown fruits and vegetables most likely to contain the most pesticides when they get to market. I bet you wanna know what they are, huh?

Peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, nectarines, strawberries, kale, lettuce, imported grapes, carrots, and pears.

You can download an handy wallet-sized guide of the Dirty Dozen to take with you to the grocery store that also has a list of the “clean 15” conventionally grown foods that are lowest in pesticides.

Or you can choose to know your farmer, your farm hands, and the dirt that surrounds them and your vegetables by sourcing your food locally. Such as from the Greenbranch Market or CSA. We’ll give you the real dirt on your food, in person. And on person.

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