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How To Avoid Eating “Dirty”

Posted on July 10, 2017 by Jeanne Roberts There have been 0 comments

You reach for the Golden Delicious apples because the label says, “Pesticide Free”.

It’s a good choice, and your ecosystem karma jumps to 98 percent for intent.

Sadly, the label is a lie. The apples in question have made so many stops from the orchard to your grocery cart that it’s impossible to determine whether or not any of those stops involved the use of pesticides.

Moreover, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA definition of pesticide free means that no pesticides can be detected on the skin of the apple. This is like saying you don’t have cancer because no one can detect it on your skin.

Even worse, the FDA expects that pesticides may have been used at some point during production, cultivation, or processing, and thus doesn’t ask producers to test their apples in the field to verify the pesticide free claim.

“GMO-Free” Labels Are Meaningless

As labels go, pesticide free is almost as meaningless as “GMO-free”, a label which is supposed to guarantee that the foods you buy are not genetically modified or altered. Vermont even passed a law (H 112, Act 120) which mandates that GMO foods – i.e., “produced with genetic engineering” – will be labeled as such effective July 1.

The Vermont warning label says, “partially produced with genetic engineering”. Critics charge that Vermont’s definition - “the direct injection of genes into cells, the fusion of cells, or the hybridization of genes that does not occur in nature.” – is nebulous at best, since plant modification has been ongoing for almost 50 years. In fact, many techniques have achieved such wide divergence from original methods that they completely escape the mandate of H 112.

The same gap between intent and the real world applies to other food labels like “natural” and “organic”. Let’s examine these labels.

“Natural” Labels Should Be Forbidden

Natural could mean anything, and usually does. The truth is, the designation is so nebulous that the FDA is currently seeking consumer input vis-à-vis what the label specifically means to them.

On its own, the FDA seems to think that “natural” means no artificial or synthetic additives. This includes colorants, which are typically produced from petroleum. The debate has gotten so tied up in linguistic knots that many now recommend the “natural” label be forbidden.

“Organic” Labels Cost a Fortune (And Are Worth Nothing)

About 30 years ago, the word organic was the Holy Grail of the food industry. At that time, it meant whole foods with no additives or fillers. Most organic foods came from small farms and orchards – and in the 1990s, small farms were the rule and not the exception.

In that kinder, more bucolic time, organic certification did not cost an arm, a leg, and the firstborn son. It was given to farms based on inspection and according to California and Oregon law, which was at the time more stringent than the overpriced and less reliable USDA Organic certification of today.

How You Can Help Reverse the “Dirty” Food Trend

If you are ambulatory, own a car, and live in the city or a suburb, find a local farm that advertises it is pesticide-free and do your own due diligence. Visit the farm, talk to subscribers, and check the farm out on Google and the Better Business Bureau. If you are satisfied, buy some produce and check with the farmer to find out when other offerings are ripe and ready for sale.

If you don’t want to take it that far, check out the listing for farm-to-home produce. For example, In the Upper Midwest, you can contact CSA Farms, a farm consortium whose 140 acres provide everything from meat to fruits, delivered fresh to your door.

You can also access the Environmental Working Group’s list of clean and dirty produce, to make sure your shopping brings home only the best produce.

You can grow your own, using a variety of non-toxic pest control products that are effective and environmentally friendly, including both electric and sonic pest control products, as well as natural and organic sprays and washes. You can also purchase insects or nematodes to rid your yard of certain pests.

Finally, for the best fertilizer that money can buy – but you won’t have to spend a penny – learn how to make earth-friendly compost from organic waste.

Don’t let the FDA “dirty up” your internal biome, or that of your loved ones. You can eat fresh, and the investment (of time and money) is only slightly more than you are already paying for dirty food.


This post was posted in Blog and Green Library, Eating Well, Health and Safety and was tagged with colorants, compost, COMPOSTABLE, CSA Farms, Environmental Working Group, FDA, gardening, gmo, H 112, nematode, ORGANIC, Organic Certification, organic waste, pesticide, petroleum, USDA

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