Cucumbers are on that list: the dirty dozen. These are the fruits and vegetables that, when grown with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, involve the heaviest use and retain the heaviest residues of these chemicals. Many of these are the sweetest, most thin-skinned, or most water-dense of our favorite produce. Remember my posts about peaches and grapes? Cucumbers are just as bad. Out of fifty pesticides typically used on cucumber plants, nineteen are PAN “Bad Actors,” which means that they are proven to be highly toxic. These include several organophosphates, which can damage the functioning of nerves. I gave a taste of William Cowper’s advice on how to grow an organic cucumber in my last post… which won’t really help you if you’re a novice gardener who’s also impatient with eighteenth-century poetry. My advice about shopping for cucumbers is much less complex: always buy organic.
Cucumbers are such a versatile vegetable for the cook who likes to play with many different cuisines. There are old-school British cucumber sandwiches, there’s cucumber dressed simply with sesame oil and sesame seeds, there’s raita (the cooling Indian yogurt sauce made with cucumbers, mint, cumin, and yogurt), there’s cold cucumber soup, there’s tzatziki (yogurt, cucumber, dill, garlic), there’s so much more, all of which is good. One of our friends served just a dish of thinly sliced salted cucumbers along with his stiff martinis.
Jack and Peggy spent some time weeding and harvesting in the kitchen garden this morning. The yield was high!