I think I experienced a pesticide hangover. I was out and about shopping the other day and picked up a container of ruby red strawberries. I was too elated over this back in season berry to take them home and wash them. I popped open the container and dove right in. They were juicy, fresh, and delicious. About 20 minutes later I was hit with one of the worst headaches I have experienced and all the glands in my throat swelled up like marbles. Swallowing was a painful chore and the spring sunshine was doing noting to improve my throbbing head.
The only change I had made in the few hours leading up to the headache and sore throat: the strawberries.
Wondering if it was possible that the strawberries could have caused my headache, I did some research. I discovered that strawberries are the most heavily sprayed crop in California. When tested for pesticide residue, strawberries have an average of 45 different chemical compounds lingering on their surface. 6 of these compounds are known or probable carcinogens, 16 are suspected to mess up the delicate balance of our hormones, 7 are neurotoxins, and 6 are developmental or reproductive toxins.
Some pretty credible studies have documented the harmful effects of pesticides injected through our food on our bodies. They are linked to breast, prostate, brain, bone, thyroid, colon, liver, and lung cancers. If a pregnant mother is exposed to pesticides, her baby has an increased risk of developing cancer both while in the womb and after birth. Pesticides have been linked to obesity and diabetes as well as Parkinson’s disease. There is also credible evidence that they increase the risk of birth defects, infertility, and have been linked to the development of autism.
Could the non-organic strawberries have been the cause of my headache? I am not sure, but I did learn a ton about the pesticides used to grow fruits and vegetables and the merit of buying organic. Yes, buying organic can increase your grocery bill, but it can also increase your health! I have been experimenting with purchasing organic fruits and veggies the last few weeks, and have found that buying in-season organic produce can cut the bill down by a substantial amount. Another trick I use is to follow the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists. I buy everything on the Dirty Dozen list organic, and everything on the Clean Fifteen I know I can buy non-organic and still be safe. Anything not on the list is up to your own discretion. I try to buy them organic if my weekly grocery budget allows and they are available organic, but I don’t stress it if I can’t. This also cuts down on my grocery bill and still insures that I am eating as few pesticides as possible.
Today’s recipe features plenty of fresh organic veggies. These wraps are super easy to throw together and pack well for lunches. I usually make a big batch on Sunday and eat them all week long. The veggies add crunch and flavor, the hummus adds protein, and the dried fruit and herbs give one of a kind flavor. It might seem like on odd combination, but it just works! This is my favorite collard wrap recipe to date.
- 4 collard leaves
- 1 cup original or plain hummus
- 1 carrot , peeled into ribbons
- 1/2 beet , peeled into ribbons
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
- 4 dried apricots , roughly diced
- 1 lime
- Drizzle of tahini
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds (optional)
To make the collards easier to roll, lay them flat on a cutting board with the thick stem facing upward. Using a paring knife, cut horizontally to remove the bulk of the rib without cutting a hole in the collard. Repeat with the remaining collards and set aside.
Top each collard with 1/4 of the hummus, carrot ribbons, beet ribbons, cilantro leaves, and dried apricots. Drizzle with tahini and a squeeze of lime. Sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds. Roll up like a burrito and serve.