Now that Farmers’ Market season is over and my sunless garden is producing, um, NOTHING, I’m having to re-visit my thoughts on produce, pesticides, and poorganics.
I recently visited ALDI, where I purchased the pictured items, mainly produce, for $50. Buying the same items at my regular grocery store, where I could have found about half of this organically would have cost me $99. (I don’t know what the Trader Joes or Earth Fare price would have been, but I’m darn sure it isn’t $50 since I got 2 lbs of fish for $10.)
Eating Poorganically means that, a little bit at a time, I have to make decisions based on a cost-benefit ratio. How much it costs vs. the benefit to our health. When I first started this process, I read a lot about pesticides on produce, I naturally decided to try to buy at least the dirty dozen (see here) organic.
However, I’ve changed my mind, mostly because of the persistent schmorganics of my sister AND my own reasonableness. She kept pushing me to show her why pesticides were really BAD. Because, you see, I quickly realized that I had been sucked into sharing an assumption that pesticides were BAD without really investigating them.
NOW, I am not a researcher, so reading data and interpreting statistics are not necessarily my forte, but I just feel that the “better be safe than sorry” approach is no longer realistic for me. To begin with, the approach of the organic produce advocates BEGINS with the assumption that residual pesticide–even the amount remaining after washing and being misted at the supermarket–is dangerously bad for you. BUT I cannot find one single iota of evidence to support this assumption.
Here’s my summary.
1. I CANNOT find a study conducted on PEOPLE that links residual pesticide ingestion on conventional produce with ANY health problem.
2. The studies that I have found and attempted to read link LARGE amounts of pesticide with health problems. These amounts are not anywhere close to the amounts that might residually exist on produce on supermarket shelves–even if you got extremely unlucky and picked the most heavily sprayed item from the dirty dozen, ate 10 of them, and never washed your produce, you would still be eating less than what is proven to be bad.
3. The studies that I’ve seen conducted on people found problems among farmers and those who were actually physically present for the handling or applying of the pesticides to the produce. Also, people who lived in homes adjacent to a field that was crop-dusted occasionally experienced problems. All the health problems experienced by people, seem to come from large scale AIRBORN pesticide inhalation–not ingestion. (Though I’m not saying to let your kids drink Round-up. Do you get the distinction I’m making?)
4. Studies that indicate pesticide ingestion causes ADD, ADHD, neurological, or fertility issues are conducted upon mice who ingest HUGE amounts of pesticides and show problems. Also, mice show problems when they eat lots of sugar and more than 6 hot dogs a week. So, my take away is not to let my kids eat tons of hot dogs and wash it down with Round-up.
5. Evidence that pesticides leech into the soil and become incorporated into the plant are speculative. Chemical analysis DOES reveal there are traces of “toxins” in the plants, but not at levels that are remotely dangerous. Moreover, there is still no evidence these trace amounts are problematic to health.
6. I ACTUALLY found an article indicating that canned, juiced, or frozen convention produce is even less likely to contain trace chemicals, which confirms my belief that WASHING, PEELING, or BLANCHING your produce makes it as virtually the same as its organic counterpart.
My conclusion, I would rather spend money on conventional produce because I think the likelihood of getting sick from washed conventional produce is INSANELY remote. Cost and health are my main considerations.
This is not to say that I wouldn’t prefer farm grown local produce when given the option because it is fresher, cheaper, and better for my local economy. Also, there is NO DOUBT that pesticides aren’t great for the environment, so organic is more environmentally friendly, but (don’t shoot) the environment isn’t my main concern, though I do care about it. Therefore, if you CAN afford organic produce, BUY IT. You are supporting organic farming, which is wonderful. I have no problems with that; I just can’t afford it myself and am done worrying about it.
For those of you who have the time to make me look like an idiot, here’s a FEW of the articles that I read below. Most of these articles are written by the OPPOSITE point of view from mine, so I was reading them looking for convincing evidence that I was LIKELY to harm myself or my children by eating conventional produce. I didn’t find it, but maybe you will. Also read the comments on these to see what a “passionate” group of people are interested in this. 😉
What do you think? What kind of produce do YOU buy? Can anyone prove me wrong? (Please don’t. I can’t afford it.)