EWG’s 2023 Dirty Dozen & Clean 15 List
Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently released their 2023 Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list. EWG is a non-profit organization that specializes in research and advocacy in the areas of agricultural subsidies, toxic chemicals, drinking water pollutants, and corporate accountability.
Since 2004, EWG has released a Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list of the most and least pesticide-contaminated non-organic fresh fruits and vegetables, respectively, based on the latest tests by the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.
Pesticides are toxic by design
Although they’re intended to kill pests such as fungi, insects, and plants, many pesticides are also linked to serious human health issues, including hormone disruption, brain and nervous system toxicity, and cancer.
Many pesticides are still legal for use in the U.S. but have been banned in the EU because of the science showing threats to human health and wildlife. Four toxic neonicotinoids – imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin and dinotefuran – remain legal for use here, even though the EPA has acknowledged their danger to insects like honeybees.
For their 2023 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, the EWG used data that tested over 46,569 samples of 46 fruits and vegetables, covering 251 different pesticides.
The goal of these lists is to educate consumers so they can make the best decisions for their families while navigating the produce sections of their grocery stores.
Dirty Dozen List
These conventional fruits and vegetables were tested and found high traces of pesticides. It is recommended to get these fruits and veggies organic, whenever possible.
3. Kale, Collards, & Mustard Greens
12. Green Beans
These conventional fruits and vegetables were tested and this year, almost 65% of Clean Fifteen samples had no detectable pesticide residues. If purchasing organic produce is not an option, these are the safest recommended conventional produce.
2. Sweet Corn
6. Sweet Peas (frozen)
8. Honeydew Melons
13. Sweet Potatoes
Let’s be clear though..
Organic foods may still have small amounts of chemical residue, mainly due to contamination from nearby conventional farms, as well as having trace amounts of organic pesticides. Most organic pesticides are not synthetic and are derived from natural sources, such as minerals, plants, and bacteria. One of the best ways to know exactly how the produce you are consuming is grown, is to do some research on the farm which the produce is coming from. Or, if it is a local farm, you might have the opportunity to talk to the farmers directly and be told exactly what their farming practices are.
Below are two natural fruit and veggie washes that you can use on your organic and/or conventional produce.
Fruit and Veggie Wash
What You’ll Need
- Spray Bottle
- Measuring cups and spoons
- 1 Cup White Vinegar
- 4 Cups of Water
- 1 Tbsp of Lemon Juice
- Gentle Scrub Brush
- Paper Towels
1. Make your solution: To clean most fruits and vegetables, mix a solution of the cup vinegar and water inside your spray bottle, then add a tablespoon of lemon juice. Shake well to combine.
2. Place your fruit or vegetable in a colander in the sink. Spray it liberally with the mixture, then let it sit for two to five minutes.
3. Rinse off the mixture thoroughly with cool water, using a vegetable scrub brush on thicker-skinned produce.
4. Pat dry with paper towels.
Veggie Wash for Leafy Greens*
What You’ll Need
- Glass or metal Bowl
- Measuring cups and spoons
- 1 cup White Vinegar
- 4 Cups of Water
- 1 tbsp Salt
- colander or salad spinner
- Paper Towels
1. Make your solution: Fill the bowl with the solution of vinegar and water, then add the salt.
2. Let the greens sit in the solution for two to five minutes, then remove.
3. Rinse off the mixture thoroughly with cold water either in a colander or the basket of a salad spinner.
4. Dry the greens with paper towels or give them in a run through a salad spinner.
* It’s recommended to do this right before you eat the greens, since any excess moisture can lead to decay in the fridge.
The Dfc PRoduce Department
At the Davis Food Co-op, you can be assured that the produce you purchase is either Certified Organic or Certified Naturally Grown*. We do not carry conventional produce, as we believe in supporting sustainable farming practices that prioritize the health of our planet and its inhabitants.
*Certified Naturally Grown is a US-based farm assurance program certifying produce, livestock, and apiaries for organic producers who sell locally and directly to their customers. CNG farmers must commit to not using synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones, or genetically modified organisms.
All of our local farms are held to the same standards, and the Produce Department takes the time to visit them in person to witness their sustainable practices in action. By doing so, our Produce Department is able to develop a deep understanding of the produce we sell and answer any questions our customers may have to the best of their abilities.
We believe in providing high-quality, responsibly sourced produce to our community, and we take pride in supporting local farms and promoting sustainable agriculture.
Reclaiming Indigenous Food Sovereignty
What was once a rare disease, type two diabetes is now the highest amongst Native American and Alaskan Native adults and children than any other racial and ethnic group in the United States. Those children, particularly living on or near reservation and tribal lands, are more likely to experience type 2 diabetes, food insecurity, and obesity in comparison to all other children in the United States. Food access is an issue at multiple levels: access to seasonally available wild foods, financial access to fresh, whole foods, and access to the cultural knowledge to prepare and preserve traditional foods. The biggest contributors to this loss in food access were forced removals from native lands onto barren reservations, forced assimilation in Native American Boarding Schools, and the government-provided commodity food that was then distributed to those on reservations. Those foods commonly included white flour, lard, sugar, dairy products, and canned meats- a major contrast from the unprocessed, whole, traditional foods they were use to.
It is because of this epidemic, people within the Indigenous communities are working towards an indigenous foods movement as a means of cultural renewal, environmental sustainability, and a way to reclaim Food Sovereignty.
“Indigenous food sovereignty is the act of going back to our roots as Indigenous peoples and using the knowledge and wisdom of our people that they used when they oversaw their own survival. This includes the ability to define one’s own food sources and processes, such as the decision to hunt, trap, fish, gather, harvest, grow and eat based on Indigenous culture and ways of life.”
Below, is a TedxTalk from Sean Sherman, who further discusses where the traditional knowledge got lost, and how himself and many other indigenous folks are taking matters into their own hands, reclaiming their Indigenous Food Sovereignty.
Here, we will be listing just a few of the many Indigenous people/ Indigenous-led Organizations reclaiming Food Sovereignty within the United States.
An online cooking show dedicated to re-indigenizing diets using digital media. Using foods native to their Americas, Indigikitchen gives viewers the important tools they need to find and prepare food in their own communities. Beyond that, it strengthens the ties to their cultures and reminds them of the inherent worth of their identities while fueling their physical bodies.
Brian Yazzie “Yazzie the Chef”
A Diné/Navajo chef and food justice activist from Dennehotso, Arizona and based out of Saint Paul, MN. He is the founder of Intertribal Foodways catering company, a YouTube creator under Yazzie The Chef TV, a delegate of Slow Food Turtle Island Association, and a member at I-Collective. Yazzie’s career is devoted to the betterment of tribal communities, wellness, and health.
Sean Sherman, The Sioux Chef
Sean Sherman, Oglala Lakota, born in Pine Ridge, SD, has been cooking across the US and World for the last 30 years. His main culinary focus has been on the revitalization and awareness of indigenous foods systems in a modern culinary context. Sean has studied on his own extensively to determine the foundations of these food systems which include the knowledge of Native American farming techniques, wild food usage and harvesting, land stewardship, salt and sugar making, hunting and fishing, food preservation, Native American migrational histories, elemental cooking techniques, and Native culture and history in general to gain a full understanding of bringing back a sense of Native American cuisine to today’s world.
The Sioux Chef team works to make indigenous foods more accessible to as many communities as possible. To open opportunities for more people to learn about Native cuisine and develop food enterprises in their tribal communities.
Three Sisters Gardens
Farmer Alfred Melbourne is the owner and operator of Three Sisters Gardens and a long time resident of West Sacramento. Based on traditional native teachings, Three Sisters Gardens is an Indidgenous-led organization with a mission to teach at risk youth how to grow/harvest/distribute organic vegetables, connect Native youth back to the land, build connections with community elders, and reclaim food sovereignty. They donate food to the Yolo Food Bank, and also hold a “Free Farm” stand where they offer their veggies free to to the community.
Linda Black Elk
Linda Black Elk is an ethnobotanist who serves as the Food Sovereignty Coordinator at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota. She specializes in teaching about Indigenous plants and their uses as food and medicine. She teaches classes like “Food Preservation and Storage” and “From Farm and Forage to Fork.” She also uses her wealth of knowledge and charismatic ways of connecting through her YouTube channel, covering topics like making homemade cedar blueberry cough syrup, drying squash varieties, and how to make plant-based medicines at home for various health support.
Black Elk’s drive to make wild plants and plant medicine accessible, applicable, and relevant is so strong it resonates throughout all she does. She is also a founding board member of the Mni Wichoni Health Circle, an organization devoted to decolonized medicines.
Reclaiming control over local food systems is an important step toward ensuring the long-lasting health and economic well-being of Native people and communities. Native food system control has proven to increase food production, improve health and nutrition, and eliminate food insecurity in rural and reservation-based communities, while also promoting entrepreneurship and economic development.
This is Indigenous resilience, moving through the era of disconnection to their foods and traditions and reclaiming their intergenerational knowledge.
The Davis Food Co-op occupies land that belongs to three federally recognized Patwin tribes: Cachil DeHe Band of Wintun Indians of the Colusa Indian Community, Kletsel Dehe Wintun Nation, and Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation.
Plastic Free July Recap at the Co-op
With the end of Plastic Free July, we wanted to give a quick recap of how it impacted the Davis Food Co-op
As you can see in the charts below, at the Co-op:
- We reduced the number of plastic products carried at the Co-op by 1.3% in the month of July, compared to the month of June.
- Plastic product sales decreased by 6.3% for the month of July, compared to the month of June.
- For our Fiscal Year of 2022, we have reduced the number of plastic products carried by 12% compared to FY 2021.
- For our Fiscal Year of 2022, plastic product sales have decreased by 3.3% compared to FY 2021.
While Plastic Free July is over, for many, the journey of reducing plastic waste is just beginning. Research shows that 87% of participants made one or more changes that have become new habits and a way of life.
The Davis Food Co-op encourages you to try something new and stick to it beyond Plastic Free July. With some minor lifestyle changes, we can make a bigger collective difference than we think.
Resources to continue plastic-reducing habits:
Co-op Owner waste reduction tips
Plastic Free Tour of the Co-op
If you have any suggestions or feedback on how we can reduce our plastic consumption at the Co-op, please fill out a Suggestion Form.
5 Plastic Free DIY Recipes
-Glass Jar, with Sealable Lid
-2 Cups Filtered Water
-1-3 Tbsp. Jojoba Oil
-1 Tbsp. Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel
**Optional- 15 drops of essential oils (rose, lavender, & chamomile are great for sensitive skin)
Add all ingredients to a mason jar, or any glass reusable jar you have available and shake the mixture. Apply a quarter-sized amount to a reusable round and apply all over your face. Can be gently used over eyes.
Shake the jar before each use.
All-Purpose Citrus Cleaner
-2 cups worth of peeled Citrus (Orange, Lemon, or Grapefruit. You can use more than one type if you’d like/have it)
-2 cups of White Vinegar
-2 cups of Water
-1 teaspoon of Castile Soap
-Mason Jar or Glass Spray Bottle
1. Add citrus peels and vinegar to a sealable jar. The citrus should be at least half full of the jar. Add vinegar (It should fill the whole jar. Add more vinegar if need be).
2. Seal the jar with a lid. (Avoid a metal lid, if possible, as the vinegar can corrode the metal)
3. Let this infuse for 2-3 weeks.
4. Once it has infused, strain the vinegar, discarding the peels and place the vinegar into a glass spray bottle. (If you have any leftovers, the vinegar mixture can be stored in a sealed jar, in a dark, cool spot.)
5. Add the water and castile soap.
6. Shake the bottle once all ingredients are in the spray bottle.
Shake before each use.
1 cup Filtered Water
1 Tsp Baking Soda
10 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
10 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
1 tsp of Xylitol or Stevia
Combine all ingredients to a jar and shake.
Shake jar before each use.
**Never swallow the mouth wash, always spit out.
Bentonite Tooth Paste
2 Tbsp Bentonite Clay
4 Tbsp Filtered Water
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1/4 Teaspoon Stevia or Xylitol
1/8 Teaspoon Sea Salt
10 Drops Peppermint Essential Oils
5 Drops Clove Essential Oil
1. Mix powdered clay with water in a small, non-metal bowl, with a non-metal spoon (metal causes the clay to be less effective).
2. Add remaining ingredients and mix until well blended.
Store in a sealed jar, in a cool spot.
-8 drops of each Essential Oil: Citronella, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Eucalyptus, & Mint.
– 2 oz of Alcohol-free Witch Hazel
– 2 oz of Water
Add all items to a glass spray bottle, shake, and you are ready to go! Shake bottle before each use. Apply liberally, avoiding eyes.
Find all of the ingredients for these recipes at your Davis Food Co-op!
Plastic Free July at the Co-op
What is Plastic Free July?
Plastic Free July® is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution. The movement has inspired 100+ million participants in 190 countries and our involvement in Plastic Free July is to help provide resources and ideas to help you reduce single-use plastic waste everyday in any way that you can. You making a small change will collectively make a massive difference to our communities and planet. You can start by choosing to refuse single-use plastics in July (and beyond!) when and where you can. Best of all, being part of Plastic Free July will help you to find great alternatives that can become new habits forever.
It is not lost on us that promoting Plastic Free July at the Co-op while we still carry so many plastic products could seem contradictory. Cutting out plastic entirely in today’s day and age is difficult for anyone, especially a grocery store. However, we believe in the change that can be made from people banding together. After all, we are a cooperatively owned business and that is the whole point of our foundation. The products that we carry are dependent on what our Owners and community shoppers choose to purchase and that is how we will always guide our decision making. With a focus on sustainability in our Ends, we will also always look for plastic free alternatives first in our purchases for the store. So while we may not be able to go fully plastic free, we vow to do all that we can this month to do so, and that is our pledge.
Zero Waste Gift Guide
This is the ultimate guide to finding low – no waste gifts at your Davis Food Co-op! The goal of zero waste living is to direct as much waste away from landfills as possible while choosing to purchase responsibly produced products from companies who actually care about the health of us and the planet. In addition to diverting waste from landfills, all of these gift options are budget friendly! Nothing costs more than $40, most are below $30, and some are on sale this month as well. Here are our picks for gifts you can give yourself and others to help us all get a little closer to the goal of zero-waste living!
What better way to introduce zero waste living to someone than a reusable Klean Kanteen water bottle! Kleen Kanteens are on sale at the Co-op this month – from now until December 15th, 2020 you can get a great deal on water bottles, tumblers, and insulated food containers from Klean Kanteen. Klean Kanteen is a Chico, CA-based family and employee-owned B corp that is certified climate neutral!
Take it from a person with a green thumb who used to not have a green thumb, plants are always a welcome gift! We’ve expanded our green offerings so you have lots of options to choose from at the Co-op. Check out the native California plants – they’re drought tolerant and local pollinators love them!
Muffin-sized silicone baking cups are the perfect gift for anyone who loves to whip up muffins, cupcakes, and more on a regular basis. The best part? They’re naturally nonstick, dishwasher safe, and reusable! Want to really wow them? Check out some of the unique flours our bulk department offers.
I know what you’re thinking – Is soap really a good gift? Yes! High-quality super-lathery local soap free of plastic packaging is a great zero-waste gift. Soap bars from The Soap Doctor are made with Yolo County olive oil too.
Making coffee at home is a great way to save money, time, and lots of paper cups and plastic lids. Check out the french presses we carry and, while you’re at it, take a look at our locally made Davis Food Co-op insulated tumblers from Klean Kanteen or a DFC mug – neither come with plastic packaging!
Go the whole (bean) nine yards and add some whole bean coffee to your gifting. Equal Exchange coffee is on sale at the Co-op from December 9th-29th, 2020. Equal Exchange is a co-op too, and they’re products are fair trade certified!
Did you know we carry a wide variety of teas in our bulk department? Find something interesting and pair it with a reusable metal tea strainer! We offer a few different styles, including small mesh bags that can be used for tea, whole spice infusions, and more!
For your friend who loves to stand in line for hours waiting for the latest trending food, we recommend a reusable bamboo utensil set and metal straws that will stand in line with them, again and again and again. These bamboo utensils and metal straws are easy to toss in a bag or backpack and are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
Wrap your gifts in Co-op or other paper bags, fabric scraps that can be reused again as wrapping, or give your gift inside a super cute Co-op tote or zipper pouch! Bonus: your gift AND it’s wrapping will help divert waste from landfills!
Elderberries: The New Face of California Hedgerows
The practice of growing hedgerows stems from all the way back to the Medieval times of England and Ireland.
Hedgerows can increase the beauty, productivity, and biodiversity of a property and are especially beneficial for farms.
Modern day hedgerows are used as a field border to enhance the habitat value and productivity of farmland.
To date, the creation of hedgerows and other restored habitat areas on California farms remains low.
This is in part because of a lack of information and outreach that addresses the benefits of field edge habitat, and growers’ concerns about its effect on crop production and wildlife intrusion.
Native hedgerows on farm edges benefit wildlife, pest control, carbon storage and runoff, but hedgerow planting by farmers in California is limited, often due to establishment and maintenance costs.
Field studies in the Sacramento Valley highlighted that hedgerows can enhance pest control and pollination in crops, resulting in a return on investment within 7 to 16 years, without negatively impacting food safety.
What if hedgerows could provide a source of farm income, to offset costs AND benefit the local environment?
Currently the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP) is collaborating with Cloverleaf Farm in Solano County and several other growers in the Central Valley and coastal counties to assess and develop the potential for elderberries to become a commercial specialty crop, with a focus on hedgerow-grown elderberry production and marketing for small- and mid-scale California farms.
UC Agriculture and Environment Academic Coordinator, Sonja Brodt believes that elderberries may be the intersection of sustainable farming, super nutrition, and economic viability.
At the 2019 Elderberry Field Day Sonja explained, “Elderberries may have the potential to combine crop production with environmental conservation functions in a way not typically seen on California farms. This model would enable small- and medium-scale farmers to receive a direct income from a farm practice that benefits the ecosystem as well.”
Farms like Cloverleaf use elder trees as hedgerows on their fields to increase habitat value and crop pollination while also making a profit on the side by selling elderberry products, such as jams, syrups, and flower cordials.
Additionally, with growing consumer interest in health foods, elderberry product sales nationwide have jumped 10-50% in recent years but almost no commercial supply originates in California.
The berries and flowers of elderberry are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system.
According to recent research, elderberries can help tame inflammation, lessen stress, and even help protect your heart!
There are about 30 types of elder plants and trees found around the world.
The European version (also known as Sambucus nigra) is the one most often used in health supplements, however, recent attention has been drawn to the California elderberry (Sambucus caerulea).
Cloverleaf Farm has been an active partner with SAREP by monitoring the success level of elderberries planted and comparing results between the California elderberry and the European elderberry.
So far their findings show that California elderberries have a greater success rate when grown in Mediterranean climates compared to the European elderberry and attract more native pollinators, which benefits the crop yields.
In addition the UC Davis Food Science and Technology department is currently working on a elderberry project, led by Katie Uhl, focusing on the bioactive components unique to California elderberries that can be beneficial for human health.
While a diversity of plant species makes for the most effective hedgerows, the California elderberry is proving itself to be a perfect foundation species as it provides excellent environmental habitat and great potential for profits by selling the berries as health food products!
You can find Cloverleaf Farm elderberry syrups here at the Davis Food Co-op, along with many other elderberry products in our Wellness department!
Written by Rheanna Smith, Education Specialist
A Conversation With Emma Torbert From Cloverleaf Farm
We were fortunate to have the chance to speak with Emma Torbert from Cloverleaf Farm to hear about the unique structure they have and the sustainable practices that they use. Emma got her masters in Horticulture from UCD and worked for the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis for seven years. Cloverleaf is an 8-acre organic orchard and farm outside of Davis, California on the Collins Farm that specializes in peaches, nectarines, apricots, figs, berries, and vegetables. The Cloverleaf follows regenerative principles including no-till, rotational grazing, and cover-cropping. The farm is co-owned by Emma Torbert, Katie Fyhrie, Kaitlin Oki, Yurytzy Sanchez, Neil Singh, Tess Kremer, and Kyle Chambers; who all manage the farm together in a cooperative and consensus-based fashion. You can find The Cloverleaf Farm’s produce at the Sacramento Farmers Market on Sundays and at various grocery stores in Davis, Sacramento, and the Bay Area.
Cloverleaf seems to break the mold of what a traditional farm functions like. Traditionally farms are passed down generationally within families, but all of your farmers come from diverse backgrounds, how did that model get started at Cloverleaf?
“We started out a group of four women and then the farm passed through a number of different partners. As different people were leaving we were realizing that for the sake of future transitions and the longevity of the farm operation a worker-owned cooperative farm would be best, although we are currently still structured as a partnership. There are currently seven partners right now.”
“We’ve been working with the California Center for Co-op Development for the last four years trying to figure out a way that everybody can own equal equity in the farm. 2014 was the first time that we started profit sharing and equity sharing. The equity sharing is not yet equal but that is what we are working with the CCCD on.”
“One of our core principles in our vision statement is working as a team. An important thing in thinking about farm management for us is recognizing everybody’s different skills and working together without an established hierarchical structure. We rotate who gets to be the crew leader every couple of weeks, so they are essentially the boss for those two weeks, which means everyone gets a chance to step into a leadership role.”
How do you limit your greenhouse emissions?
“In terms of limiting our carbon footprint, we do a number of things. In terms of the transportation of our food, we try to deliver as locally as possible. We purposefully choose markets that are closer and do not take our products further than the bay area. We are always making the decision to try to sell closer to home.”
“As for what happens in the field, all of our vegetables get grown no-till. Our orchards and all of our annual crops are no-till, which means that we don’t use a tractor very often at all. In doing that we use less fossil fuel. We’ve also put solar panels around the farm, and can’t wait until we can add more.”
“Something else that really contributes to greenhouse gas emissions is water use. We use moisture sensors so that we use as little water as possible. We tread that fine line of watering as little as possible without stunting the growth of the trees in our orchards.”
What are your pest management practices?
“We are an organic farm so we don’t spray any pesticides while the fruit is on the trees. We do use pheromone sprays, which disrupt the mating cycles of a lot of stone fruit pests. We put out raptor perches and owl boxes. The main pests that we have trouble with are ground squirrels and gophers.”
How do you try to limit your food waste?
We’ve been trying lots of different things for many years and I feel like this year it’s all coming together, we have very little food waste coming from our farm right now. Our compost pile is pretty tiny right now considering the size of our farm.
“We have an Ugly Fruit club, which allows people to buy our third-grade fruit at a discounted price. We also create a lot of value-added products like jams and dried fruit, which allows us to still sell our less aesthetic fruit instead of wasting it.”
“Something else that we do is donate to the food bank, especially this year when we’re worried about our community being food insecure.”