The Elixir SOUL Food Series: Get BERRY Healthy This Summer

BY Eileen Z. Fuentes (@theSPEACHgal)

Photography by Briana E. Heard

Happy Summer Uptown! For those unfamiliar with my SOUL food series, please note that it stands for: Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed and Local!

When we are on a quest for good health, it isn’t always easy. There are so many obstacles in our path. However, the summertime is precisely that time when fruits that we enjoy are readily available and cheap. Berries of all kinds; strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, cherries, etc…  are everywhere! Plus they are easy to prepare. Most require a simple rinse and VOILA, you have yourself a nutritious snack. There are many benefits to eating a diet rich in berries. It is a powerful antioxidant and has been shown to reduce your risk of several types of cancers. Cranberries and blueberries contain a substance that may prevent bladder infections. And blueberries and raspberries contain lutein, which is important for healthy vision.

Even though they are enticing, you should avoid the conventional variety as they are highly sprayed with pesticides, which has been shown to cause lasting damage to your health, particularly during fetal development and the early childhood years. Late Spring/Early Summer is the season for berries so most markets will carry them. My advice to you is to go to your local farm for the best selection. If you don’t know where to find one, visit localharvest.org and search by zip code. I have also listed the information below for the farmers markets in the area.

* 168th Street at Fort Washington: Open Tuesdays, 6/14 – 11/22
 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

* 175th Street bet Wadsworth & Broadway: Open Thursdays, 6/16 – 11/17
 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

* Isham St. bet Seaman Ave & Cooper St.: Open Saturdays, year-round 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

The annual list published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), was recently updated. It warns consumers about fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide levels. The 2011 list was just released, and it includes a few changes over last year’s. There is no need to memorize the list as you can download a printable copy of the 2011 Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen!

Clean Fifteen 2011

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplants
  9. Cantaloupe (domestic)
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet potatoes
  14. Grapefruit

Dirty Dozen 2011

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes (imported)
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries (domestic)
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/collard green

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