I just heard tell from EB – an onion-, salt- and orange-lover – that my blood-orange salad was not divine. Merciful kingdom! Though it wasn’t the recipe: Her oranges were bland, she noted. Another reader, tee, said hers too were substandard, suffering from dryness.

It would be responsible of me not to issue a warning right this moment: If your blood oranges aren’t so good on their own that they make you keel over, lose your footing, and crack your head on the kitchen floor, please do not attempt that salad. It contains only two ingredients and, as with so much classic Italian cooking, if they aren’t the best you can find, you’ll taste it. The ingredient list tends to be short and discerning, and there’ll be nothing to hide behind.

Part of me wonders if my particular blood oranges were so damn fine because they were organic. Surely I’m not the only one who can taste the difference (or who lives and dies by the state of their fruit bowl).

Organic bananas are definitely sweeter and more banana-y than the regular ones. The strawberries – no contest. They’re like the Godhead’s dream of what strawberries taste like.

That said, while I wouldn’t make the blood-orange salad without superlative blood oranges, I can’t always buy organic everything, for reasons that don’t need explaining. If you too find yourself wondering where to draw the line, have a look at this cheat sheet from my favourite green expert, Gill Deacon. It reveals which fruit and veg land a spot among The Dirty Dozen (those whalloped by pesticides) and which ones are less heavily sprayed. It’s formatted darlingly to be wallet-sized, so you can keep it handy on shopping trips. Did you know, for instance, that lettuce is far more likely to be drowned in pesticide than tomatoes are? When I make a simple tomato sauce with nothing but tomato and onion, you know I’m buying organic. For a vat of chili in the middle of winter? Not so much.

So, no second-string blood oranges, though go ahead and fudge it with your avocado and your mango – or the tomater in your sloppy Joes for boring old non-Olympic hockey night (suckers!).

Coming up tomorrow: the great meatless taco experiment. Someone please tell the vegetarian I live with who doesn’t eat legumes (or read this blog) that he’s been warned, however obliquely.

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