A while back, an Indian friend of mine made a valid comment to me when I discussed organic foods with him. He said that today people talk about organic this and organic that whereas years ago this word did not exist because foods were grown naturally without any pesticides, chemicals, fertilizers and the likes. He laughingly said that the corn was small back then but it had the soil, the sun and the rain to thank plus the hands that planted it. I had to agree with him. I remembered the small lemons, oranges and mangoes grown in the backyard. They rose out of seeds thrown in the yard and the environment did the rest. Every recollection that I have, was of natural growth with no added ingredients.

So what are pesticides?

“A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances used to destroy, suppress or alter the life cycle of any pest. A pesticide can be a naturally derived or synthetically produced substance. A pesticide can also be an organism, for example, the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis which is used to control a number of insect pests, or even a genetically modified crop (see Bollgard II cotton). The legal definition of a pesticide in NSW covers a wide range of substances.

Pesticides include bactericides, baits, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, lures, rodenticides and repellents. They are used in commercial, domestic, urban and rural environments.”

Pesticides are very important otherwise crops would be easily destroyed by pests. It is a fact that we cannot get away from. When farmers have acres and acres of land being used for mass crops and thereby mass food consumption, they do not have the luxury of planting naturally. They have to do what they have to do. Farmers are entitled to their share of profit. We cannot deny them their rightful gain. It would be unfair. It falls on us then to know what steps to take in order to eat healthy.

There are many pesticides that have been outlawed in the USA but that are being sold to foreign countries. The interesting thing that happens afterwards is that the foreign country uses it and sells its products to the USA and we buy it. One recent example was that of orange juice. The FDA learned through a letter from Coca-Cola that the fungicide carbendazim which had been banned in the USA since 2009 was being used in Brazil and the orange juice showed signs of it. Carbendazim has the potential for causing liver, eye, and brain damage. It was also detected in orange juice in Canada which exports some of theirs to the USA as per the news.

Every year the non-profit organization called Environmental Working Group releases a list of the 12 most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables on the market. The EWG calls them The Dirty Dozen. They find that even though the produce has been washed and cleaned, it still carries some residue of pesticides.

Here is the 2012 list of The Dirty Dozen:

1)   Apples

2)   Celery

3)   Bell Peppers

4)   Peaches

5)   Strawberries

6)   Imported Nectarines

7)   Grapes

8)    Spinach

9)    Lettuce

10) Cucumbers

11)  Blueberries

12)  Potatoes

The EWG has added green beans and leafy greens in their Super Dirty list as #13 and #14 respectively. So in the light of all this information , what are we supposed to do?

It is recommended to substitute the above produce with other fruits and vegetables if we do not want or cannot afford to go organic. Though in theory, organic sounds great, the high cost of these items can stretch our purse. Most people cannot afford to eat organic food. The goal is to do research on nutrition and learn about the nutrients in the foods we want to consume. The ball is in our court.

Let us eat well and stay healthy, one day at a time!!!!


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