Friday, April 3, 2009

Shopper's Guide to Pesticides 2009

Over at, he shared the list of which fruits and vegetables are most loaded with pesticides.

Shopper's Guide to Pesticides 2009

Here's what the authors had to say:

"Addressing the risks of pesticide exposure first and foremost requires information, which is frequently made unavailable to the general public by the government agencies. To counteract this trend for secrecy, EWG [Environmental Working Group] believes that:
  • People have a right to know what's in their food, so they can choose foods with less pesticides.
  • The government can and should take steps to dramatically reduce the number and amount of toxic chemicals, including pesticides, in the food supply.
Each of us can opt for food safety today by choosing to purchase produce low in pesticides and by buying organically-raised fruits and vegetables as frequently as possible. With this first step we can protect our families' health and preserve our own future and the future of the environment from the harmful effects of pesticides."

We grow some organically raised veggies and we buy locally raised, organic produce as much as possible. But not everything that is raised locally is raised organically. The truth is, sometimes when we have to choose between local and organic at the market, we're torn. We often choose organic for health reasons, but we know "organic" isn't necessarily synonymous with "sustainable." What's more sustainable....plain old bell peppers from a local farmer, or organic sweet peppers shipped in from Connecticut?

The short answer is: it depends. That answer can be frustrating at times.

I feel like I spend 5 times as much time at the grocery store than the people around me. I read every label of every product, trying to decide which is the most sustainable option (fortunately, my co-op provides its shoppers with a good amount of product information). I try to remember which producers I've read about or met, and what their philosophies were. I think about how the food is being raised, and whether it makes sense for me to buy it. As an undergrad my philosophy professor should have warned me about the philosophical debates I'd face at the grocery store. No wonder my mother never took me grocery shopping with her when I was a kid...she'd just have me embrioder, pit cherries, or make mud pies until she got home.

Obviously, I try to patronize restaurants who source locally raised organic produce and are committed to a more sustainable way of life. Of course, we sometimes eat at restaurants that don't subscribe to these kinds of philosophies, and I continually reconsider why I'm eating there and whether my choices are as sustainable as they could be.

Even with our efforts, I wonder just how much pesticide residue we're consuming each day, and I hope for the day when sustainability is more easily achieved.

[where: Sustainable Food, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Twin Cities, Minnesota]

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