My Top 25 Scary/Horror Movies

What’s YOUR favorite scary movie? Leave it in the YouTube comments. Are there any obvious snubs on this list? Let me know about it!

Episode 15 of the Wise Eats Podcast was a Halloween Spooktacular! Check out the full episode at Wise-Eats.com/Episode15.

My History with Halloween

As a kid, Halloween was easily my second favorite holiday next to Christmas. Each year, I made it a goal to stock up on as much candy as I possibly could and then hoard all of it before any of my brothers could steal it. I couldn’t wait to dress up as my favorite scary movie character and go trick-or-treating so I could get my pillowcase full of candy. Haunted houses, scary movies, you name it, if it was scary, I was all about it. These days, I don’t get to celebrate like I used to, but it’s still one of my favorites. I still love all the decorations, atmosphere, and the spirit of the holiday.

Why Do We Love Scary Stuff So Much?

One of my favorite aspects of Halloween is watching scary movies. I grew up adoring horror movies and it was by far my favorite genre. I literally rented every single scary movie my local video store carried. I even started a “40-year old virgin”-style horror figure collection that I still have today.

I’m not as much of a movie buff these days, but still love the horror genre, which is funny because my wife is the total opposite. She does not like horror movies and doesn’t watch them, and can’t understand why anyone would want to put such scary or evil things in their eyes. I’ve tried to explain it to her, but it’s difficult to put into words, which got me thinking, why do we love horror movies so much? It’s a great question, so I did some searching and found this answer in an article from ScienceNordic.com:

“When we watch a horror film, we respond to the dangerous and horrifying situations that are being depicted. We identify with the fictional characters who confront terrifying threats. We feel revulsion and terror. We go through a range of emotions as we’re watching, and through that experience we learn something about our own responses. Horror provides us with insights into ourselves and into the dark corners of the world, and it lets us develop and refine coping skills that may be critical later in life.”

I think that does a good job of describing it. In a way, horror is almost a survival mechanism. By paying close attention to tragedy, we help maximize our own chance for survival. It’s the same reason we can’t help but stare when we see a car wreck on the side of the road. We’re nosy and want to know what happened. We sympathize with the victims but at the same time feel thankful we’re not in their place. But the difference with horror movies is, no one actually has to get hurt.

At the end of the day, humans are curious, nosy, and we want to be entertained. We want to feel something, an emotion, whether it’s happiness, fear, or sympathy, because it energizes us. We laugh at inappropriate jokes, we cheer for our hero, and we demand justice for the villain. We find pleasure in experiencing a variety of emotions in a safe atmosphere. In that aspect, horror is just another way to experience a thrill and have a good time, but it can also train us handle negative emotions more effectively.Horror movies challenge our psychology, question our own behaviors, and allow us to feel fear and pain without actually being threatened.

The moral of the story is, scary movies just make us better people, and with that said, I’m gonna run down my Top 10 all-time horror movies:

Wise Eats Top 25 Favorite Horror Movies

These are sort of in order, but not really, I actually love them all:

  1. Halloween 4 (1988) – Any Halloween movie could be my #1 on this list, but Halloween 4 is my overall favorite in the franchise.
    • By the way, fun fact…it took just 21 days to film the original Halloween movie.
    • Also, the original Michael Myers mask was selected from a Hollywood Blvd magic shop.
    • Production designers were deciding between a clown mask and William Shatner Captain Kirk mask, and obviously ended up choosing the Shatner mask.
    • They spray painted it white, cut the eye holes bigger, and the rest is history.
  2. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – Movie literally terrified me as a child and was the subject of many nightmares in my life.
  3. Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) – Love this whole series but this particular film had the biggest impact on me.
  4. Return of the Living Dead (1985) – Must’ve watched this 100 times with my cousins…BRAINS
  5. Evil Dead (2013) – Saw this one in the theaters and man was it disturbing! Loved it.
  6. Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives (1986) – Can’t have a Top 10 horror without Jason Voorhees. This has always been my favorite in the series.
  7. Lost Boys (1987) – Never really scared me much, just a super cool vampire movie with an amazing soundtrack.
  8. Creepshow 2 (1987) – I’m a sucker for short, scary stories. The Creepshows were always a favorite.
  9. Bodybags (1993) – Another short story horror film from master of horror John Carpenter
  10. Scream (1996) – Brought the horror genre back to life in 1996.
  11. Demons (1985) – Not sure if it holds up today but it scared the crap out of me when I was a kid
  12. Dead Alive (1992) – Cheesy/gory underrated zombie-type horror movie.
  13. Drag Me to Hell (2009) – Another over-the-top, wild, gory, scarefest that I just loved.
  14. Silver Bullet (1985) – Favorite werewolf movie from childhood
  15. Cabin in the Woods (2011) – Thought this one was really original and just a really fun time!
  16. Christine (1983) – Amazing book and movie from mastermind Stephen King
  17. The Conjuring (2013) – Just when you thought you’d seen enough exorcism-type movies, they come along with this little gem
  18. High Tension (2003) – Oddly reminiscent of one of my favorite Dean Koontz books. Very intense!
  19. Jeepers Creepers (2001) – One of the more innovative slasher icons of the 2000’s!
  20. Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990) – Another short story horror film that I adored growing up
  21. The Ring (2002) – One of the more genuinely terrifying films of the 21st century!
  22. Army of Darkness (1992) – One of the more iconic horror movies of all time!
  23. Witchboard (1986) – Never looked at Ouija boards the same after this!
  24. Poltergeist (1982) – Super creepy ghost/haunted house movie.
  25. Jaws : The Revenge (1987) – Probably doesn’t belong on any horror list but I loved this one growing up also.

Are there any obvious snubs? I think a couple might be the Dawn of the Dead and Night of the Living Dead remakes, but I haven’t seen those enough to rank them on the list. Maybe next Halloween! But let me know your thoughts! wiseeatspodcast@gmail.com

The Dirty Dozen & Clean 15 – What You Need To Know

Have you heard of the dirty dozen but aren’t sure what it is, what’s on the list, or if it even matters? Then this article is for you!

I was the same way. I had casually heard that were was a “dirty dozen” list and that avoiding certain fruits and vegetables was important for pesticide contamination. But I never looked at the list or did any research for myself, until now! So, how important is it to avoid the dirty dozen? I’m going to share the list, tell you why they’re bad, why they might not be so bad, and offer some suggestions. It’s time to wise up!

Key Takeaway: Eat More Fruits & Vegetables

Before we get started, the moral of the story is this: Eating more produce in general, whether organic or not, is what’s most important. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other amazing compounds that give us life, energy, and vitality. I learned this the hard way.

From Junk Food Junkie to Produce Addict

I spent my entire life being nutrient-deficient, consuming nothing but processed garbage, sugar, and junk food. It wasn’t until my mid-late twenties that I started having fruits and vegetables on a regular basis. I remember hanging out at a friend’s house and seeing him cook a stir fry for dinner that was loaded with chicken and vegetables. My mind was blown – I was like bro what are you DOING?? Cooking vegetables for yourself? Inconceivable! The process of making and preparing my own food was so foreign to me. That moment opened my eyes and inspired me to change my ways. From there, it was a slow process incorporating vegetables into my diet consistently, but now they’re a part of daily life. Salads, smoothies, stir fries make up about 75% of my daily intake of food, and I try to have vegetables at nearly every meal.

How Could Eating Produce Be Bad?

So, we all know we should be eating more produce, but one problem with that is nearly 70% of fresh produce sold in the U.S. contains residues of potentially harmful pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and even poisonous gases used in farming (Dirty dozen, 2020). These chemicals are designed to kill organisms that negatively impact crop production, so imagine what they’re doing to our bodies! Pesticide consumption in humans has been linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, birth defects, and other immune system disruptions (Aktar, Sengupta & Chowdhury, 2009).

What is the “Dirty Dozen”?

Each year, the Environmental Working Group releases a list of the “dirtiest” and “cleanest” fruits and vegetables, based on the levels of contamination from pesticides and herbicides sprayed during farming.

Pesticide contamination is analyzed on 47 popular fruits and vegetables based on more than 43,700 samples taken by the USDA and FDA. Rankings are based not only on the percentage of samples with pesticides but also on the number of pesticides found on samples. Samples are peeled and/or rinsed before testing to provide a good indication of consumer’s exposure levels. It should be noted that the USDA does not test for all pesticides used in crop production, most notably glyphosate, the most heavily used pesticide in the U.S. (Dirty dozen, 2020).

With that in mind, let’s go over the dirty dozen and clean 15 lists. Below is the 2021 ranking, in order from most contaminated to least contaminated.

  • Raisins
    • Raisins are not considered produce, but if they were, they would be #1 on the dirty dozen. Out of 670 conventional raisin samples analyzed, 99% tested positive for at least two pesticides, with the average per sample being 13 pesticides (Galligan, 2020). We always buy organic and get ours from Costco.
  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
    • Apples are one of the crops that are sometimes genetically modified in U.S. markets. Get organic for sure (Dirty dozen, 2020).
  • Grapes
  • Cherries
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Bell & Hot Peppers
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Blueberries
  • Cucumbers
  • Plums
  • Green Beans
  • Tangerines
  • Grapefruit
  • Raspberries
  • Snap Peas
  • Oranges
  • Carrots
  • Winter Squashes
  • Summer Squashes
  • Bananas
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Mangoes
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Mushrooms
  • Cauliflower
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Eggplant
  • Sweet Peas Frozen
  • Papaya
  • Onions
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet Corn
  • Avocados

Clean 15

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
    1. Sweet corn is one of the crops that is sometimes genetically modified in U.S. markets. I would still buy organic whenever possible (Dirty dozen, 2020).
  3. Pineapple
  4. Onions
  5. Papaya
    1. Papaya is one of the crops that is predominantly genetically modified in U.S. markets. Get non-GMO or organic, if possible (Dirty dozen, 2020).
  6. Sweet peas (Frozen)
  7. Eggplants
  8. Asparagus
  9. Broccoli
  10. Cabbage
  11. Kiwi
  12. Cauliflower
  13. Mushrooms
  14. Honeydew Melon
  15. Cantaloupes

Notes

  • Each year, only a subset gets retested, rather than redoing every single crop.
  • Almost 70% of the Clean Fifteen fruit and vegetables samples had no pesticide residues.
  • Only 7% of Clean Fifteen fruit and vegetables samples had two or more pesticides.

Should We All Avoid the “Dirty Dozen”?

Some argue that the pesticide levels on conventional produce are insignificant and unharmful. United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Pesticide Data Program Report shows that 99% of residues found on fruits and vegetables, if present at all, are well below safety levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency (Riemenschneider, 2020).

Also, according to the Alliance for Food and Farming, a grown man could consume 635 servings of strawberries in one day without any effect even if the strawberries had the highest pesticide residue recorded for strawberries by the USDA. A child could consume 309 servings of conventional spinach containing the highest pesticide content without any effect (Pesticide residue, 2021).

So, who is to be believed? The Environmental Working Group says pesticides are poison, while farmers and the USDA say they’re not so bad. I’d like to think that maybe these chemicals and gases aren’t as harmful as we’re led to believe, but I’m not taking any chances. If chemical sprays are strong enough to kill small organisms, why should we feel safe putting them in our bodies? Also, many studies have shown these pesticides to be detrimental to our gut bacteria, which can affect our health in so many ways, leading to disease and disfunction.

The Solution: Eat Lots of Fruits & Vegetables, Whether Organic or Not

Choosing organic whenever possible is good practice in my opinion. It reduces pesticide exposure and is linked to a variety of health benefits. If you’re not buying organic, cooking fruits and vegetables can also help reduce pesticide levels (Dirty dozen, 2020). Regardless whether you choose conventional or organic produce, simply eating more fruits and vegetables in general is most important when it comes to improving health. I would choose to buy conventional produce rather than skip it entirely because it’s not organic. That said, we buy local and organic at every opportunity.

Don’t Just Stop at Organic Produce

Here are some other items that we almost always buy organic:

  • Meat, Dairy, Eggs: Organic, pasture-raised, grass fed meat and dairy is the best of the best. Better treatment of the animals, better nutritional profile, less antibiotics, less toxic chemicals, and less environmental impact. It’s worth the extra money in my opinion, not only to support the animals and the environment, but also to improve the nutritional quality and taste of your food!
  • Grains – Oats, wheat, barley, rye, whole grain. Most of these items are sprayed with glyphosate, the active ingredient in Round Up. Very toxic to the body.
  • Legumes – Beans, Lentils, Peanuts, Peas, Soybeans, Chickpeas, etc.  Same thing with grains, also sprayed with Round Up, so they test high in glyphosate.

But, Organic is So Expensive!

Yes, organic can be expensive, but it’s not that bad when you shop around. Look for sales, buy in season, get produce from your local farmer’s markets or even grow your own! Also, buy frozen, which is often less expensive than fresh. Many of the organic fruits and veggies we buy are from Costco at very reasonable prices!

At the end of the day, it’s worth the extra money in my opinion to put quality nutrients in your body, because you’re going to be paying for it one way or the other. You’re either paying for it out of your pocket book, or you’re paying for it in lost productivity, decreased energy, and whatever else these toxic chemicals may be doing to your health and performance.

For additional resources, check out EWG.org

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Sources

Aktar, M., Sengupta, D., & Chowdhury, A. (2009, March). Impact of pesticides use in agriculture: Their benefits and hazards. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved January 17, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2984095/

Dirty dozen: EWG’s 2020 shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce. (2020). Environmental Working Group. Retrieved from https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php

Galligan, T. (2020, March 25). Raisins: No. 1 on the dirty dozen list? Environmental Working Group. Retrieved from https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/raisins.php

Pesticide Residue Calculator. (2021, January 9). Safe fruits and veggies. Retrieved fromhttps://www.safefruitsandveggies.com/pesticide-residue-calculator/

Riemenschneider, P. (2020, March 25). Dirty Dozen even more tone deaf than usual. Produce Blue Book. Retrieved from https://www.producebluebook.com/2020/03/25/dirty-dozen-even-more-tone-deaf-than-usual/