Have you heard about the Environmental Working Group’s “Clean 15/Dirty Dozen?” It’s a pretty popular tool that consumers can use to decide which produce to buy organic, based on which crops are likely to have a higher amount of pesticide residue. Fruits and vegetables such as apples, celery, and sweet bell peppers are some of the worst offenders for 2012. Onions, sweet corn, and pineapples are on the top of the “clean 15″ list, suggesting that shoppers don’t have to worry about buying these organic.
I’ve recommended this tool to a number of friends and clients who were on the fence about the importance of buying organic, but after reading Maria Rodale’s Organic Manifesto, I certainly will not be recommending this tool ever again.
Organic Manifesto is a fantastic, eye-opening read that I highly recommend to anyone with a mind to think for themselves. The book pulls together scientific research and common sense to illustrate how our chemical-based agriculture system is poisoning our world. She makes the argument that if we were to adopt more organic farms, free of pesticides and petro-chemicals, we would be able to reverse many of the ailments that plague our society today, including asthma, diabetes, cancer, autism, and ADHD. We would also be able to reduce our carbon footprint dramatically.
Whether or not you believe in global warming, it’s no secret that diseases are on the rise. To quote from Rodale’s book, “Austism and attention-deficit/hyper activity disorder (ADHD), diseases virtually unheard of a few decades ago, are now diagnosed regularly. Of every 100 children born today, one will be diagnosed with autism before the age of 8 [...] Rates of asthma, diabetes, and childhood obesity are at all-time highs and scientists can’t explain why the number of children with food allergies has increased 18 percent in the last decade. Is it a coincidence that the prevalence of these problems has increased as we have increased the use of chemicals to grow our food?”
But the Environmental Working Group says that as long as you steer clear of the dirty dozen you will be lowering your pesticide intake dramatically. Isn’t that enough?
The answer is a resounding no.
If we’re just talking about ingesting pesticides, washing your produce or even picking produce that has a inedible shell won’t keep the pesticides away. Roundup, the most widely used herbicide in America, contains an active ingredient called Glyphosate, made up of surfactants and fat-soluble solvents, which helps Roundup stick to and get inside of the plants. Roundup will never wash off your vegetables once it has been applied. The fat-soluble chemicals cross the blood-brain barrier, slithering their way into every cell of the plant and our bodies. Traces of these chemicals are now being found in the placenta after a baby is born. “Conventional” fruits and vegetables are contaminated with herbicides and pesticides, down to their very core.
If you have an argument, I can bet I know what it is. “Eating organic is too expensive.” My answer to that? Add up all the money you spend on health care, paying for asthma treatments, insulin shots, radiation and chemotherapy. Now add in the cost of your mental well-being from having to deal with these diseases. I know that I personally would rather use my dollars to vote for organic food that is not poisoning every living creature on this planet.
It comes down to common sense. Who cares if global warming is real or not, who cares if the rise of disease is linked to chemical usage. Does it make sense to spray millions of pounds of scientifically-proven harmful chemicals all over everything that we eat?
I’ll let you answer that one for yourself.