Posts tagged ‘conventional’

January 27, 2012

Are you having pesticide for dinner?

In a perfect world, all the food we put into our bodies would be organic, but as we all well know, we don’t live in a perfect world.  Organic food, although more readily available than say, 15 years ago, still isn’t the main supply and sometimes, depending on what the product or produce is, the cost can be up to double the cost of conventional for the same product.

In a less than flourishing economy, like we’re living in now, we all have to watch our spending and need to make sure we’re getting the best value for our dollar.  Realistically not all of us can afford to buy absolutely everything organic.  So how do you decide?  How do you choose what to buy organic and what to buy conventional?  How do you know what’s “worth it” and what’s not?

A few of years ago I ran across the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website and found the EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce also known as the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists.  These lists show the results of a study done from 2000 – 2009 by the USDA which ranks pesticide contamination on 53 of the most popular fruits and veggies.

The Dirty Dozen list shows the worst foods to buy conventional due to the amount of pesticide contaminants and the Clean 15 list shows the foods with the least amount of contaminants, or in other words the safest to buy conventional. Everything else falls somewhere in the middle. You can read more about the methodology of the study on the EWG website.  I would highly recommend it because it goes more in-depth about the findings and you can see the full listing of all 53 items tested as well.

If you’re thinking “I don’t need that, I wash everything before we eat it.”  The reality is, we do need it.  The majority of the produce in this study was tested after being rinsed or peeled.

So what do you do?  If you’re like me, when I first read this study, it scared the pants off of me.  I had no idea that “the apple a day to keep the doctor away” I had been eating is the worst offender in pesticide contamination.  Great.  Here I’ve been making an effort to eat well and instead I’ve been pumping my body full of pesticides.  My initial reaction was fear.  I needed to stop what I was doing, throw out all my produce and completely switch over, only buy organic.  But, realistically, I knew my bank account would last about four nano-seconds if I did that, which is exactly why the EWG put the Shopper’s Guide together.  So instead what I do is as I make my grocery list, I check the lists.  (The EWG site has a nice pdf list you can print off and hang on your fridge or bring to the store with you as a reference sheet.)  If I need apples I note “org” behind them so I know when I’m in the store that I needto buy that item in organic.  If I’m buying bananas I either put “c” or “conv” or leave it blank so I know that I can either buy conventional or organic.  Everything in the middle (not on the Dirty Dozen, but not on the Clean 15) I leave blank as well leaving myself the flexibility to buy whatever looks good at the store.

Next, I check my packaged goods (cans, jars, etc.) to make sure that anything I’m buying in this category or is made from these items follow the same guidelines… applesauce “org”, tomatoe sauce “org”, and so forth.  The same goes for frozen veggies…

So there you have it.  A practical guideline to help navigate whether or not to buy organic produce and where to get the most bang for your buck.

Happy shopping!


November 21, 2011

Was that intentional?

I was just reading an email I got from Land Stewardship Project.  The email was about upcoming Holistic Management Classes.

As I was skimming the email to see if the class is something I would be interested in I ran across this statement, which got me thinking.

“The framework is build upon the idea that the success of all human goals is tied to the health of the ecosystem processes that support life on this planet. In other words, whether you directly manage land or not, Holistic Management can help you achieve your goals in ways that benefit you, your family, your community and the environment.”

What really struck me was the “whether you directly manage land or not”, the key word being “directly”.  Whether we directly do something, in other words, whether we intend to do something or not, it has an impact.   Everyday we’re faced with hundreds, perhaps thousands of decisions and we’re directly doing something or it’s the indirect choice not to, it’s still making a choice, which in turn makes an impact.

This can be applied to so many areas of our lives, but it really drives home the point of intentional living.  Often times we make a decision to do something but forget that the opposite of what we decide (the indirect choice) also makes an impact.  Often times these indirect choices have even more impact that the direct choice.  I’ll throw a big example out there.  Some people may make the direct choice to by conventional produce, the indirect choice is not to buy organic produce.  They may make this indirect choice without even being aware that it was a choice at all.  Maybe buying conventional is all they know.  Maybe they didn’t realize that they even had the choice to buy organic tomatoes, for example, because they are in a different corner of the store that don’t typically shop in.  Or, maybe they made the choice to buy conventional tomatoes because they were less expensive than their organic counterpart.  This choice, this purchase, has impacts in many ways that they might not have even thought about.  They may not even realize that the tomatoes they are eating or feeding their family were grown from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), in other words, altered genetic make-up.  They may not have realized that the tomatoes were sprayed with pesticides, herbicides and fungicides to keep insects and diseases away from them so the farmer could get a better yield but that those “cides” stay on the produce, are absorbed by the plant that feeds the produce and stay in the soil for years to come.  They may not have realized that the tomatoes were picked green and transported halfway across the country and were “ripened” during shipping by using ethylene gas applications. They also may not realize that by choosing conventional produce they are choosing to support conventional practices, many of which have gotten the soil and environment in the situation we’re in today.

The indirect choice, not to buy organic produce, also means indirectly choosing not to support organic or local growers who are making a conscious decision to grow their crops using sustainable methods, not using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, but instead using crop rotations and other methods to preserve and add nutrients to the soil.  In other words, making an indirect choice to support what is harming the planet and an indirect choice to not support making it a better place.

You might be thinking, “Come on!  They were just buying tomatoes!”  but that is exactly the point.  We all need to be aware of the impact of our choices, whether direct or indirect, intentional or unintentional.  I’m not saying to change everything you’re doing today or run out and buy only organic food.  And I’m not saying to make yourself crazy when shopping at the grocery store or any other place.  What I’m saying is that we all just need to be aware, be mindful and make intentional choices.