Two days after being diagnosed, as I was getting ready to have my first surgery, I remember asking the surgeon how this could have possibly happened to me having no genetic involvement or family history. She shared with me that once upon a time, the majority of her patients were older women, but that she now sees just as many younger women getting breast cancer, and that all cancers in general are becoming more prevalent in younger people. I continued to pick her brain and asked her what she believed is causing this outbreak in the younger population and she told me that if she could pinpoint just one major cause, it would be the produce that we consume! Of course this was just her opinion and there are so many other factors that could be responsible, but produce in her opinion was key. She told me to always buy organic produce and even when organic, make sure to wash it throughly. I took her advice and hope that you will too!
As fruits and vegetables are grown, they are showered daily with pesticides which are the chemicals used to destroy and repel pests. These chemicals however, pose a huge threat to our health and have been linked to a wide range of hazards, ranging from short-term impacts such as headaches and nausea to chronic impacts like cancer, reproductive harm, and endocrine disruption. Some fruits and vegetables are more susceptible to these harsh chemicals and are more toxic than others. Each year the Environmental Working Group produces a guide identifying the “dirtiest” fruits and veggies on the market and it’s a great resource to use when determining what conventional produce you should really try to stay away from.
The idea behind purchasing organic means that the fruits and veggies were grown without being exposed to these toxic pesticides. Farmers that make organic claims must meet national organic standards, maintain careful records, and be certified by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Organic produce can be super expensive in comparison to conventional or non-organic, but in my opinion you can’t put a price tag on protecting your health. If money is a concern, you can use the guide I mentioned earlier as a go-to resource for knowing what food to prioritize. I was always pretty health conscious, even prior to my diagnosis, but now I’m a total crazy person and try to buy all organic when possible.
Whether I purchase organic or conventional, I always wash with my DIY natural produce wash. Simply running your produce under water only removes about 50% of the nastiness and scrubbing only eliminates about 85%, so it’s really important to take an extra step in order to eliminate all of the crap! Making this wash is super simple and really inexpensive. You may already have all of the ingredients laying around in your kitchen: water, white vinegar, fresh organic lemons and baking soda. Vinegar is a major, player reducing both pesticides and bacteria, lemon juice is antimicrobial, working to destroy bad germs and bacteria and baking soda is a biopesticide which inhibits the growth of certain bacteria and fungi.
1 cup of distilled white vinegar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons baking soda
Mix the vinegar and water together in a deep container or bowl. Add the lemon juice and baking soda. The baking soda and vinegar will react and there will be some fizzing.
Spray: Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and label it so it’s not confused with other cleaning products :/ Spray generously on produce and let sit for 2-5 minutes. Rinse under cool, clean water.
Soak: Pour mixture into a large bowl or sink and let produce soak for 2-5 minutes. Rinse with cool, clean water. I usually use a mason jar to store the excess soak.
This is a stronger mixture and can be diluted with good results as well.
Rinsing might shorten the shelf life of the produce so rinse just before eating.
Refrigerate excess spray or soak as it has fresh lemon juice.
Now your produce will have a healthy glow and you can be assured that what you are eating is providing you the nutrients your body needs as opposed to ingesting crap chemicals. Phew!