Now if I'm eating my own fruits and veggies I know I can just rinse them off and they're safe. If I buy from my local farmers market I can just ask the guys I'm buying from if they use any pesticides. Of course I won't buy from them if they're using anything stronger than compost tea. But what about the lettuce I get at the Corner Market?
Did you know that there are pesticides that are actually absorbed by the plant? Systemic pesticides circulate through the plants tissues. The idea is to increase food production by killing the insects that feed on the plant, but unlike traditional pesticides, you can't wash off the residue because it's in the plant's tissues. These chemical are absorbed by the plant and poison all of the plant including the pollen and nectar of the flowers. The butterflies and bees that pollinate these plants are in turn poisoned. Imagine how this affects our entire ecosystem. After a good soaking with these pesticides, this poison is not only eking its way into the tomatoes you’re planning on putting in your salad, it’s in the soil. Now imagine that it rains, those poisons are being washed into our public water supplies and our streams where they are contaminating the fish and other sea food that we eat. Pesticides are poisonous! The most notable case would have been the Bhopal, India disaster in 1984. I realize that may be an extreme example, but people are poisoned by pesticides every year.
There are alternatives to buying contaminated produce. You can purchase organic produce and you don’t even have to search out a speciality health food store anymore. Organic fruits and vegetables are offered at most grocery stores, in fact, I’ve seen them at that big superstore that we invariability run to every week for some necessity. However, you may need to ask for organic fruits and vegetables if they are not currently being offered in you local grocery store.
Another option for avoiding contaminated produce is to support organizations that are trying to protect the health of people and the environment. One such group is the Northwest Coalition of Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP). Supporting organizations like the NCAP is a great way that we can help make pesticide use nothing but a bad memory.
If you want to read more about systemic pesticides you can find an article in the October/November 2010 issue of Mother Earth News .