Working on a potato harvester requires fast decision making abilities. If you care for every little piece of produce that soil creates, this might be a challenge. My mom especially wanted to rescue them all. The small ones, the huge ones, the buckled ones, and the ones, that living creatures of the field had already snacked on. Her heart broke every time she had to throw one of those potatoes off the belt-conveyer to return it to mother nature. The potato distributer and the end-consumer at the supermarket have different images of a perfect potato. If my parents had left the imperfect one’s with the rest of the potato harvest, the distributer would have reduced the price for the amount delivered. So they had to go.
Conventional farming is not as idyllic anymore as you might think.
But this post was not intended to be about the huge amount of edible food on the planet that never gets consumed. It’s about pesticides. So let me build the bridge here. Modern agriculture has to be convenient and efficient. It’s not about handpicking or the miracle of life anymore. Nor do taste and nutritional value play an important role (at least not to distributers). Valuable properties produce should have are (among others):
- Yield – to get as much pounds per acre as possible, which relates to more money per acre.
- Uniformity of shape and color – produce should look healthy and equally ripe.
- Disease resistance – which leads to a higher yield.
To accomplish these goals different measures are utilized. One of them is a treatment with chemicals called pesticides. They have been used to kill the little creatures that might find the produce as appealing as human do. Unfortunately, chemicals that have the ability to kill insects can be dangerous to people as well.
Children are especially prone to damage done by pesticides.
Pesticides are known for their toxicity to the nervous system. Studies show that consumed over a prolonged period of time, they can affect the health of vital organs. Pesticides are suspected to disrupt your hormone system; they can cause cancer and are linked to developmental delays. If different pesticides are mixed it can lead to a chemical cocktail effect. Do you remember that YouTube video where they drop a Mentos mint into a bottle of diet coke? Imagine this happening in your body. Not so funny.
Pesticides are not only found on farms. They are used to keep train tracks “clean” (be careful if you love to pick wild berries close to a track). They are sprayed in public gardens, golf courses, and playing fields. They are carried in the air, rivers, groundwater and soil. It’s almost impossible to avoid exposure to pesticides. This is why it is so important to make the right decision whenever the choice is yours.
High in pesticide residue – “The Dirty Dozen” – buy these organic.
There are restrictions on the use of the most toxic pesticides. However they are still detected in some foods. EWG.org created a ranking with the most contaminated of conventionally grown foods, the “The Dirty Dozen”.
“The Dirty Dozen Plus” TM 2014
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Nectarines (imported)
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Snap Peas (imported)
- Hot Peppers
- Kale, Collard Greens
Organic production prohibits the use of chemical pesticides and it requires that the used land has been free of chemicals for at least 3 years. Researches found out that children, who eat mostly organic diets, carry fewer pesticides in their bodies.
Reduce exposure to pesticides and increase your health and the health of your family.
Consider the following:
- Buy the fruits and vegetables mentioned above, “The Dirty Dozen” organically grown.
- Buy produce from small vendors that grow vegetables and fruits on a small scale, visit your farmers market or connect with sellers online on Food-hub.org
- Wash and lightly scrub vegetables and fruits adequately in running water to remove pesticide residue, dirt and germs from the surface. However washing will not remove pesticides incorporated while the produce was growing.
- Do not use dish soap or bleach to wash your vegetables and fruits. Produce has pores and might absorb the soap.
- Soak it in salt water for a few minutes, which will help kill germs.
- Peel skin off conventional grown fruit and vegetables (be aware that you are missing out on important nutrients that are located in the peel).
- Think twice – spotless and glossy apples might look healthier but if they are treated with wax, pesticide residue might be trapped underneath the wax.
- Join one of over 75 community gardens if you live in Vancouver or start your own community garden http://vcan.ca/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/cg-guide-lowres.pdf
- Plant your own vegetables and fruits on your balcony. Visit CityFarmBoy.com or victorygardensvancouver.ca for professional help in Vancouver. Sign up for a planting class. This can be fun for children, too.
- For a share of the harvest let InnerCityFarms.com convert your lawn into a beautiful organic vegetable garden.
Some people might say, that the amounts of pesticides ingested are small. However the cumulative affect of consuming pesticides over an extended period of time will have negative consequences. You have a choice. Start reducing the amount of pesticides you’re ingesting today. Not only will you make an important step towards health, but also every time you choose organic over conventional produce you might convince a farmer to use fewer pesticides. And this contributes to a better and healthier environment for everyone.Are you still serving pesticides with your dinner? by Tanja Knapp