What You Should (and Shouldn’t) Have on Your Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving is the one day I spend thinking entirely about food…

I remember growing up watching my dad spend all day making Thanksgiving dinner for our family. He did it all. The oyster stew, the gravy, the stuffing… We even brought out the honorary carving knife for him. At the end of the day, the kids did the dishes. Mom loved that day.

But the problem is… Most of us consume about twice the calories we should on a typical day – with some estimates showing Americans consume about 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving.

Other than making sure we have the Thanksgiving regulars – turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing – we don’t worry about the nutritional value of the food.

And that’s OK. Stuffing yourself for one day won’t kill you.

But did you know that some of your Thanksgiving favorites contain something more dangerous than the fat and calories?

I’m talking about pesticides.

Every year, an organization called the Environmental Working Group (EWG) creates a “Dirty Dozen” list – the 12 foods that have the highest amounts of pesticides. Researchers have linked foods containing pesticides with Parkinson’s disease and human thyroid dysfunction. These poisons are also known to alter human liver and brain function. And the effects happen indirectly from just minute amounts of these chemicals. Even in small amounts, they contaminate water supplies, killing animals and resulting in human birth defects.

You might be surprised to learn that some Thanksgiving favorites are often high in pesticides.

Let’s use this year’s Thanksgiving meal to show you how to buy safer foods. These are dangers you can control. And at Health & Wealth Bulletin, we’re all about empowering you in your health and wealth.

Here are some popular holiday dishes made with produce on the EWG list. Keep reading to see where their ingredients rank…

  • Stuffing
  • Succotash
  • Green bean casserole
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Apple pie

In its 2018 list, the EWG ranked 48 common fruits and vegetables based on the amount of residual pesticides found on them in testing done by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. You can find the full rankings here.

So when you go shopping this week, look for organic versions of these foods. These foods commonly have high concentrations of pesticides. Organic versions limit the amount of pesticides used (though keep in mind they still contain some pesticides). Here are some of the worst that may appear on your Thanksgiving Day shopping list, along with their rankings. (It’s numbered 1 to 48, with 1 being the worst for pesticides. The No. 1 food is strawberries.)

  1. Apples (No. 4)
    2. Celery (No. 10)
    3. Potatoes (No. 11)
    4. Sweet bell peppers (No. 12)

Some foods you don’t need to worry about are:

  1. Sweet potatoes (No. 31)
    2. Frozen sweet peas (No. 43)
    3. Onions (No. 44)
    4. Sweet corn (No. 47).

Some of you may have noticed I included green bean casserole and pumpkin pie on my list of dishes to look out for… but not on the list of foods to buy organic. Green beans and pumpkin (winter squashes) rank as No. 21 and No. 25, respectively, on the EWG’s total list of 48 foods. So they’re right in the middle and relatively safe. Of course, there’s no harm in buying these organic, other than the added cost. (And I don’t know about you… but I get my pumpkin from a can.)

Remember too, we’ve seen plenty of outbreaks from E. coli this year. Thorough washing is essential for killing most bugs on your produce, but if you’re especially worried, cook your veggies to kill these bacteria. Personally, I like to simply use a vinegar mix to wash my produce, some of which I enjoy raw and others I cook. I use a mix of one tablespoon of vinegar and six cups of water.

And if you want to cook your veggies, my staff volunteered some of their favorites: Roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon, grilled carrots, and, of course, the classic green bean casserole.

Something else for your Thanksgiving table – a good bottle of wine. The start of the holiday season is the perfect time to share new and favorite wines with friends at dinners and parties that run from now until the New Year. So when my team asked me what kind of wine would be best for a Thanksgiving meal, I decided it was time for another wine tasting in the office.

Now, plenty of wines pair well with turkey, green beans, potatoes, cranberry sauce, and the rest of the trimmings for Thanksgiving. But one popular varietal goes well with all the dishes – Pinot Noir. So we selected seven wines and had a blind taste test – none of the tasters knew which wine was which.

Coming in at No. 3 was our cheapest wine, Franzia’s boxed Pinot Noir. At $0.45 a glass, it’s a great deal for an enjoyable wine.

If you want to see our top two wines, along with the tasting notes, you can find it in last week’s issue of Retirement Millionaire, right here. And if you aren’t a subscriber, why not sign up today? Click here to sign up.

What We’re Reading…

Here’s to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
November 20, 2018