Briefly Noted

Briefly Noted: May 2017

By Staff

News and resources!

The 2017 Dirty Dozen: Strawberries, spinach top list of pesticides in produce

The latest Environmental Working Group Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ is out.

Analysis of tests by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that nearly 70% of samples of 48 types of conventional produce were contaminated with residues of one or more pesticides. USDA researchers found 178 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products on the thousands of produce samples they analyzed. The pesticide residues remained on fruits and vegetables even after they were washed and, in some cases, peeled.

“Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is essential no matter how they’re grown, but for the items with the heaviest pesticide loads, we urge shoppers to buy organic,” says Sonya Lunder, an EWG senior analyst. “If you can’t buy organic, the Shopper’s Guide will steer you to conventionally grown produce that is the lowest in pesticides.”

For the Dirty Dozen list, EWG singled out produce with the highest loads of pesticide residues.

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Peaches
  6. Pears
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapes
  9. Celery
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Sweet bell peppers
  12. Potatoes

Pears and potatoes were new additions, displacing cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from last year’s list. Key findings:

  • The most contaminated sample of strawberries had 20 different pesticides.
  • Spinach samples had an average of twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop. Three-fourths of spinach samples had residues of a neurotoxin banned in Europe for use on food crops—part of a class of pesticides that recent studies link to behavioral disorders in young children.

By contrast, EWG’s Clean Fifteen™ list of produce least likely to contain pesticide residues includes:

  1. sweet corn
  2. avocados
  3. pineapples
  4. cabbage
  5. onions
  6. frozen sweet peas
  7. papayas
  8. asparagus
  9. mangoes
  10. eggplant
  11. honeydew melon
  12. kiwis
  13. cantaloupe
  14. cauliflower
  15. grapefruit

Relatively few pesticides were detected on these foods, with low total concentrations of pesticide residues. (A small amount of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash sold in the United States is produced from GMO seedstock. Buy organic varieties of these crops if you want to avoid GMO produce.)

When an all-organic diet is not an option, use the Shopper’s Guide; choose your conventional produce wisely.

Get a downloadable version of the guide to your computer, tablet or smartphone:


Fix it Fair

We lament the disposable culture that we have created over the last few decades. But who among us fixes things any more? Broken vacuum? Into the landfill. Hole in your socks? Easier to buy new ones than to darn it.

But what if we didn’t allow ourselves to “buy” into this kind of lifestyle? Want to fix something but don’t know how? Utah Recycling Alliance can help. And no, it’s not an app or a website, this is real people coming together to teach and guide newbies through the art of fixing, repairing, making new again at their fix-it fairs, happening every other month.

Bring clothing, small carpentry items, small appliances, bikes or small electronics (no large items like refrigerators or couches, please) and get matched with a repair coach. Attendees will be helped in the order they arrive and when the best-suited coach is available. Participation is free and the first 40 people to arrive get a special half-off admission coupon to the museum.

The next Fix-It Clinic, hosted by Utah Recycling Alliance, happens on Saturday, May 27 at the Leonardo (209 E 500 S). Volunteer coaches are always needed. If you have an area of expertise and would like to participate, email:


Urban Garden & Farm Tour: Apply now to be a tour site

Wasatch Community Gardens is looking for innovative, creative, or just downright awesome gardens that owners are willing to show to others. If you have backyard chickens, bees, composting systems, rain barrels, a food forest or combination thereof and live in SLC, consider applying for a position in the 2017 Urban Garden and Farm Tour, Saturday, June 24.


Pitch your story

On May 30, The Moth Radio Hour will happen live on stage at the University of Utah Kingsbury Hall. The night’s theme: Between Worlds, hosted by Dame Wilburn.

If you’re a fan of the KUER radio program or a regular aspirant at The Bee, SLC’s own version of The Moth, listen up. The internationally acclaimed organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling seeks submissions from folks in Utah.

Prepare a two-minute version of your story and call their pitch line at 877-799-MOTH.


Call for volunteers for Utah Arts Festival

The Utah Arts Festival depends on more than 1,000 volunteers every year.

Specific volunteer opportunities include: set-up crew, greeters, makers workshop assistants, booth sitters, Fear No Film attendants, face painting, tear-down crew and more.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the 2017 Utah Arts Festival, June 22-25 at Library Square, visit


The Scoop on the Coop

As everyone with a flock of hens knows, every day brings presents (“oh, for me!?”) when it’s time to gather eggs.

That pleasure is more or less available, depending where you live. If you live by the rules, looks like only the landed gentry can have hens in some parts of town. Murray is still an outlier:

Salt Lake City—Allows a maximum of 15 chickens, no roosters; coop must have minimum of two sq. ft. per chicken (six sq. ft. per bird if not allowed out of coop); chickens should be kept at least 25 ft from any dwelling.

South Salt Lake—Up to four hens on lots zoned single-family residential (R1) with a minimum area of 4,500 sq. ft.; one additional hen (up to six total birds) is permitted for every additional 1,500 ft.; a Domestic Poultry Permit is required; coop allowed only in rear of property, 25 ft. from any residence and not within 20 ft. of any street or within 5 ft. of any property line.

Holladay City—Up to 25 chickens on residential lots up to 1/2 acre; permit required at no cost.

West Valley City—Allows as household pets: hens, rabbits, ducks; pot-bellied pig if spayed or neutered (not for food purposes) and must be less than 150 lbs. with tusks removed or trimmed.

Murray—No chickens on any residential property. Beekeeping is allowed, with a $100 city permit and adherence to technical elements such as a fence. (For bees? Really?)

Taylorsville—Hens are allowed in residential zones for family food production; permit required; number of chickens determined by lot size; no roosters.


Neighborhood cleanup: Be a tidy dumper

The annual SLC Neighborhood Cleanup Program for oversize items is back. Collection runs through October. Not everything is appropriate for pickup. Remember these guidelines:

  • If it fits in the can, put it in the can.
  • Separate green waste from other items in your pile, as it will be composted. Do not bag!!
  • Separate mattresses from other items in your pile. These are recycled.
  • To dispose of tires, paint, oil, batteries and other hazardous wastes, call the SL County Health Department, 385.468.3863; for flammable or explosive material: 385.468.3862. Many household hazardous waste disposal events happen around town:
  • No E-waste. On May 20 or August 9, bring your passé TVs, computers, etc. to the downtown Smith’s collection event, 8am-noon.
  • Heavy materials (rocks, sod, concrete, asphalt) must not exceed two wheel barrels full.
  • Cardboard: Goes in the blue curbside bin.
  • Clothing: Donate. According to EPA data, all textiles are recyclable but only 15% actually are. Even the raggedy stuff has a future life—as home insulation, sports tracks and more.
  • Books: Are you kidding? No books. (Blue bin if you absolutely must.)

About three weeks before your cleanup date, you’ll receive a postcard notifying you of your collection week. You can also call 801-535-6999. Dates are not posted online in order to discourage illegal dumping.


The Real Food Challenge started about 10 years ago in California when a student coalition decided the food available on college campuses needed improving.

With input from over 100 industry experts, farmers, ranchers, fishermen and food service operators, the students came up with the Real Food Standards. Criteria included: Was the food that you are eating grown and harvested by workers who received a fair wage and labored under safe and fair working conditions? Grown within 250 miles of you (lowering the food’s over all carbon footprint)? Grown with care not to damage or degrade the environment (ocean, lake, forest, field) where it was produced? Was the meat raised in conditions that supported animal welfare?

Since 2008, a number of colleges have signed onto the Challenge including the University of Utah, the only PAC-12 school to sign on so far.

As a result, the University of Utah began purchasing produce from Salt Lake’s New Roots Farm, a refugee program operated under the International Rescue Committee. Last fall the farm provided nearly 1,000 pounds of produce to University dining halls. Many food vendors on campus are also using a new labeling system to indicate which foods are up to snuff. These labels highlight foods that are humane, eco-friendly, local and fair.

Look for for these food labels at the following University of Utah dining areas: Mom’s Cafe and Mom’s Pantry (Marriott Library), Counsel Cafe (S.J. Quincy College of Law), Peterson Heritage Center Dining Room and Heritage Center (Student Union).

This article was originally published on May 1, 2017.