Spinach and other Magnesium Rich Veggies That Have Too Many Pesticides

Spinach has magnesium... and pesticides?I believe organic is a highly over-rated label, especially in this day and age when USDA regulations are written to favor major food industries. Organic can mean almost anything, and it is not necessarily either healthier or more sustainable. That said, there are some times when organic may be a good idea.

When we know that pesticides are likely to have been heavily used on a certain produce, we may choose to go organic. According to the Environmental Working Group, which recently published a survey of fresh foods that were most exposed to pesticides and those that were least expose to pesticides, some interesting things came up. Celery took the dubious honor of being the most exposed of the group in the study. Celery was followed by peaches and strawberries,and then apples and blueberries. Worse, for those of us who love it for its high magnesium levels, is that spinach made it onto the pesticide baddy list, in position number 8.

This doesn’t mean you can’t eat spinach, simply that you might want to buy organic spinach when you can. If you can’t, make sure you wash it with more than the usual thoroughness.

This should be no surprise, as one of the vegetables I had the most trouble with in shipping from China to Japan was spinach, both frozen and fresh. The leaves just seem to absorb so much, and if they are exposed to pesticides and pollution, they’ll pick it up. So eat your spinach, but lean organic for both the fresh and frozen (please tell me you’re not still eating canned, Popeye).

For the food that got the least exposure to pesticides, they were topped by the humble onion. It were followed by avocado, sweet corn, pineapple and mangoes.

In any case, you should already be washing your leafy vegetables well – whether they are organic or not.

The full list for each is reproduced below.

Pesticide heavy (buy organic):

  1. Celery
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Blueberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Bell peppers
  8. Spinach
  9. Cherries
  10. Kale/Collard greens
  11. Potatoes
  12. Grapes

Relatively pesticide free:

  1. Onions
  2. Avocado
  3. Sweet corn
  4. Pineapple
  5. Mangoes
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Kiwi
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplant
  11. Cantaloupe
  12. Watermelon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Sweet potato
  15. Honeydew melon

Eat Sourdough Bread for More Magnesium

Sourdough Bread is the best source of magnesium from grainWhile all whole grain breads are high in magnesium, a study in France revealed that whole grain sourdough breads have a huge advantage. While the magnesium content is the same as other magnesium rich breads, the sourdough brings the big booster of increased bio-availability. In other words, your body absorbs and gets to use more of the magnesium than it does from non-fermented type breads. In fact, sourdough helps deliver the whole range of minerals (including magnesium, iron and zinc) much more effectively than other whole grain breads by increasing absorption rates. This study was conducted at the Unité de Laboratoire pour l’Innovation dans les Céréales.

If you live in San Francisco, this study is good news, as sourdough bread is available everywhere. If you live elsewhere, or you want to be adventurous, you may want to try making sourdough bread yourself. The tricky part of this is making what’s called the sourdough starter.

Sourdough starter is a bubbly, fermenting mess of flour and water that gives the sourdough its tangy flavor. It’s also what will boost your magnesium levels.

Organic and (even better) whole wheat bran flour is the way to go here. You want lots of natural microorganisms to help the fermentation. (The bran flour is magnesium superstar to start with, too.)

For the fast method, all you need is to blend one cup of flour with one cup of warm water in a wide-mouth jar to get started on your sourdough culture. To ensure success, add a few wash organic grapes (which will have yeast on the skin) or a started such as kefir. These are not necessary, but they will make it more of a sure thing. If you choose to go it without these added ingredients, try starting with just a half tablespoon of flour with 3 tablespoons of water. The add equal amounts of flour and water each day for a week until you have a full cup.

A clear glass will allows you to see how the culture is developing – and, believe me, you will want to check it often. Leave the jar in a warm and light location, at around 70 to 80° Fahrenheit (21 to 27° Centigrade). If temperatures go over 100° Fahrenheit (38° Celsius) you will end up killing the culture. A cloth or paper towel should be placed loosely over the top of the jar to help keep it moist and to keep out bugs.

Every day, you need to empty out half of your starter culture, and fill the jar again by adding equal amounts of water and flour to the level it was at before you emptied half. It will be ready for use anywhere from 5 days to a month later, depending on temperature and location. This is weird thing about starter – telling when it’s ready.

Just remember, though, that once its ready it just continues to get better – so don’t feel rushed. As long as no purple mold shows up to kill it all off, you’re good to go.

Sourdough starter is alive, and thus it must be fed regularly. When not using your starter, it is important to dump out half the batch from time to time, and mix in fresh flour and water to equal the lost volume. Exactly how often this should be done depends on storage temperatures and the local strain. An active starter should be fed daily (if not multiple times per day depending on temperature and other conditions). See the note below about dormant starters.

Sourdough is best stored at room temperature or slightly warmer. Anything outside of this range will

Sourdough starter for magnesium super bread

How the starter might look

change the proportions of the bacteria and yeast, which affects the flavor of the result. It can be safely stored in the fridge, but temperatures over 80F are too hot. If you store your starter in the fridge, then let it sit out several hours after feeding before returning it to the refrigerator. This allows the yeasts to get active and feed. The temperature in the fridge is enough to slow down the yeast, but not the lacto-bacteria. So after a while your starter will begin to smell boozy and have a sharper tang to it than you might want. To fix this, just dump out 90% and start the feeding cycle again. When it’s ready, you can slow things down by putting in covered (but not too tightly) in the fridge.

To make sure that your starter is full strength before committing it to a dough, you should check to see if it quadruples its size if fed and left for an hour. Feed starter by adding equal amounts of water and flour, and put ¼ cup in a measuring cup. If it hits the one cup marker in an hour or so then it is ready to go. If not, then it needs to be fed more. Accelerate your feeding schedule until it passes the test.

There’s a wonderful explanation of this at breadtopia.com, with a helpful video as well.

Making your own sourdough is a wonderful experience, and a super way to really soak up all the magnesium you need.