Food Friday:Spring's First Fruits and Shopper’s Lists

This week the morels came out. Morels are the spirit of the forest rising up after spring mist and sun in close succession. They are hidden in plain sight. They are jewels amidst dung, a mushroom, not to be cultivated, and bringing the highest prices of anything in a northern hemisphere vendor’s stand. 

We gathered them as a seasonal rite, and to celebrate the birthday of a friend which comes at this time. They require a bit of esoteric knowledge, lest they be confused with inedible or poisonous varieties. They are not to be eaten raw. They are best cooked in butter and allowed to hold their own next to something simple like steak. 

To enjoy them, we must be sure we must of their origin and provenance. The effort we spend is in proportion to our enjoyment. By contrast, how is it that we give so little care to our everyday food ? 

Today’s post is a cautionary note about food safety. More than that, it is an invitation to experience our daily food more fully. You have probably all seen the bumper stickers “ Who’s your farmer?”. This is a valid question. It is both important and fascinating to learn about the origins of food. Once you learn about the different ways food is produced, including the conditions of the farms, factories and people involved, you will most likely care. What you will find is that the bad is really bad, and the good is really good. The obtaining, preparing, serving and eating of food becomes something greater, and something of which you can be proud. And, somewhat incidentally, the food is better. 

As a relevant side note, when you eat food of this quality, it will enhance your health. Since high quality natural food is best prepared simply, it is generally healthy. It is more expensive, and not the kind of thing one overeats. You will be too busy savoring it. You will be come interested in quality not quantity. Most likely, your weight will gravitate toward normal if it is not already there. 

I was hoping to also find some wild asparagus in the fields. Plus, strawberries and rhubarb are due soon. But I am impatient, and have been looking at strawberries in the stores, both organic and not. So, naturally, I was interested when a headline flashed onto my newsfeed: 


The #1 Most Contaminated Fruit You’re Buying Is...


I clicked on it, only to find that the answer is strawberries. The link led me to an articles about two very important lists which I want to share with you: 


The Dirty Dozen


The Clean Fifteen


These are lists produced by the Environmental Working Group (, a nonprofit which is endorsed by The American Academy of Pediatrics. They strive to educate and protect the public from pesticide residue in food, and they use USDA ( US Department of Agriculture) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) data to do it. 

The Dirty Dozen is the 12 most pesticide laden produce items in stores, in order of contamination. The Clean Fifteen lists the fifteen least contaminated non-organic produce items. Of course, the ideal is to buy organic. But if you cannot, you should avoid the items on the Dirty Dozen. If you can only buy a little bit of your produce as organic, then concentrate on the ones high on the Dirty Dozen list. Conversely, you can feel reasonably good about buying non-organic produce if you choose from the Clean Fifteen. You can download these lists for free on Take your hunting and gathering to the next level.