25 April 2009

AND ECOJUSTICE FOR ALL: A Primer on Produce and Pesticides

Lemons did not make the list.

Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization, sifted through 87,000 government studies to compile two lists in the "Shoppers Guide to Pesticides." One roster includes fruits and vegetables most laden with toxic pesticides; the other list presents produce least likely to pose pesticide problems. The ranking system goes from 100--peaches are most laden with pesticides--to 1--onions are least contaminated.

Below, find the short lists, or go to foodnews.org for a full list of 47 items, a pdf or iPhone ap of the list, and more information about effects of pesticide and how to limit exposure to these chemicals that are, by design, toxic.

THE DIRTY DOZEN (Buy organic)
Ranked from the most contaminated
Peaches • Apples •
Bell peppers • Celery • Nectarines • Strawberries• Cherries • Kale • Lettuce • Grapes (imported) • Carrots • Pears

DON'T WORRY (Produce with fewer threats from pests--therefore less often treated with pesticides--or produce with thick, impenetrable skins)
Onions • Avocados • Corn (frozen) •
Pineapples • Mangoes • Asparagus • Peas (frozen) • Kiwis • Cabbage • Eggplant • Papayas • Watermelons

P.S. Last autumn, while on assignment
in California's Santa Inez Valley, I had lunch with an intelligent, charitable couple--farmers growing vegetables. We were part of a larger party, guests of a fabulously hospitable Franciscan priest from Ireland. The setting was idyllic, a patio at the good padre's golf club.
Curious and making conversation, I asked the farm wife whether they grow organically. She said, "No." She briefly told me that her husband takes issue with the organic standards, and that, basically, they believe organic labeling is a scam. I dropped the topic, so as not to spoil our lunch. On that patio, surrounded by other people, wasn't the appropriate place to get into it, but I kept their contact information and would like to visit their farm and find out more. If I remember correctly, they grow artichokes, cauliflower, and one other item. I'd like to know more about their stance.

My post titled "YUM: Roasting Strawberries..." includes a comment made to me during an interview with a school principal in Oxnard, California, where strawberry fields stretch forever. This principal noted that when some of the field worker parents come to pay their tution, she notices how terrible their hands look because the skin is burned from the fruits' acids and chemicals on the berries.

In the works: A post about tomatoes--another terrible food controversy.


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