The Dirty Dozen

Celery is easy to grow at home...

Celery is easy to grow at home…

There is no doubt that the world we live in is largely toxic to our health. Mass produced foods are raised with chemicals and fertilisers and additives are used prolong the shelf life and make them easier to transport.

But organic food can cost more, meaning many families cannot afford organic produce on every shopping trip. By deciding which foods could potentially do more harm than others, you may be able to control your food budget more effectively.

The ‘Dirty Dozen’ is a list of foods based on the level of pesticides they contain. The Environmental Working Group based in the USA estimates that people can reduce their exposure to pesticides and chemicals by up to 80% if they switch to organic when buying these twelve foods.

Heading the list in New Zealand is celery which can have more than twenty different pesticides in a single bunch. A close second are canned peaches followed by canned apricots with more than 96% of all cans found to have high levels of pesticides.

While New Zealand butter was found to only contain three harmful pesticides, they were found in 100% of all butter tested. Wheat is another product which is treated extensively with pesticides and chemicals. This includes foods such as bread, cakes, biscuits and pasta.

The ‘Dirty Dozen’ full list is readily available online at If you choose organic alternatives to these foods, you will be reducing the exposure to pesticides, chemicals and additives and although it is hard to avoid them completely, it is important to detoxify our bodies as much as possible.

Selenium is a mineral which binds onto toxins and heavy metals in the body and excretes them after they have passed through the liver. Selenium is deficient in New Zealand because of intensive farming practices but it can still be found naturally in foods such as Brazil nuts.

Garlic is another food which can help to detoxify the body and protect red and white blood cells from oxidative damage caused by toxins. Garlic contains a wide range of sulphur compounds which oxidise toxins making them easier to excrete from the body.

While many may not have the ability to churn their own butter, we can plant our own apricot and peach trees, grow our own celery and choose organically grown produce where possible.