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Organic Does Not = Toxin Free: Debunking Myths

Note: Organic is still the better choice.  However, if you cannot find organic in your town or you cannot afford it, you can still safely eat certain non-organic fruits and vegetables. (Both organic and non-organic should be washed well.  See the fruit and veggie wash recipe below!)

The following is from the post The Lowdown on Organic from a wonderful blog that I highly recommend, http://rawfoodsos.com. Among her many assets, blogger Denise Minger is an incredibly bright and talented researcher and a beautiful writer.  (Read her bio before you stereotype by blog name!)

Organic does not mean “pesticide free” or “chemical free.” Organic growers do shun synthetic chemicals, but many make liberal use of organic fungicides and pesticides—often at much higher concentrations than conventional growers use, since organic pesticides are generally less effective than synthetic ones. Organic produce can carry residues of nicotine (used as an insecticide), pyrethrum (“a likely human carcinogen,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency), rotenone (a potent carcinogen)… the list goes on. About half of the most common organic pesticides used have cancer-causing properties, according to Bruce Ames (inventor of the famous Ames toxicology test**), and the ones that don’t are frequently harmful or lethal to birds, fish, and small mammals.

Denise points out that Organic food is often grown in better soils and usually tastes better. However, more important than organic vs non-organic choice, she asserts, is freshness, the amount of time from the bush/tree to the plate.

Note: Organic farmers are only supposed to use “organic pesticides” as a last resort. Instead, crop rotation, crop diversity, planting habitats for beneficial predators and good soil are an organic farmer’s first priority.  Obviously this ideal sometimes flees.  For the science regarding the ill effects of conventional pesticides on children and women of child-bear age read more here

Great Link 1: The EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides (PDF)

Great Link 2:  The Truth About Organic Gardening: Benefits, Drawbacks, and the Bottom Line, a book by Jeff Gillman. Gillman is an organic advocate but recognizes that many gardeners want the fast response of commercial products such as pesticides, so he goes through the list of both organic and synthetic choices. Effectiveness, environmental impact quotients, and toxicological effects are all covered. He givest the EIQs (environmental impact quotients) for both synthetic and organic pesticides.

Great link 3: Check out the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) which advances alternatives to pesticides world wide.

Great link 4: Look up  Alternatives to Chemical Pest Control from the PAN Pesticides Database by crop, region, and pest-specific info.

To remove lingering pesticide residue Denise recommends:

A. spritzing your fruits and veggies with a mixture of

  • 90% water and
  • 10% food-grade hydrogen peroxide

scrub clean with a sponge or vegetable scrubber. OR

B. Use a spray made from a mixture of

  • water (1 cup),
  • baking soda (2 tablespoons),
  • vinegar (1 cup), and
  • grapefruit seed extract (20 drops)

(u can double the recipe if need be)

Pour it into pot, and let your food sit in it for a few minutes before washing it off thoroughly with warm water.

Question for next time: Has new technology created plant-based alternativees to pesticide chemicals that are safe and nontoxic?

** The Ames test is a widely accepted short-term assay for detecting chemicals that induce mutations in the DNA of organisms.   http://www.currentprotocols.com/protocol/tx0301

About Heather

My name is Heather Ferris. I am the founder and creator of Nurture Nature Project! I believe together we can re-imagine the future and re-create systems to support the sustainable regeneration of healthy life on our planet. Listening to your own heart and living from your inner truth is the first step to building a better world. Every person has something important to offer.


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