Monday, June 29, 2009

Are You a Food Citizen?

LoneStart Wellness talks a lot about nutritional content and making positive food choices. We talk about making modest yet meaningful changes in our daily “food and activity behaviors.” We talk about “spreading Viral Wellness™” and creating the mind-set that turns burdens into opportunities.” We don’t usually talk about pesticides. But . . .

Do you ever think about what’s on (or in) your food—or drinking water? You’ll probably be surprised, and disturbed, and maybe even disgusted. The Pesticide Action Network points out that the most recent figures from the Environmental Protection Agency (2001) indicate that nearly 900 million pounds of pesticides are used in the U.S. each year. This is about three pounds per person.

What do the 900 million pounds of pesticides do? For starters, they make your apples, tomatoes, corn and other produce look nice. People who have organic vegetable gardens know that their vegetables don’t look like those in the bins at the grocery store. They aren’t full of chemicals either. The problem is, toxic pesticides are absorbed into the food—meaning they don’t wash off. They accumulate in our bodies. They accumulate in our soil and water.

According to the Pesticide Action Network, an average American child gets more than five “servings” of pesticide residue each day. Atrazine (a hormone disrupter) is a pesticide that has been banned in Europe, yet is found in 71 percent of U.S. drinking water. An analysis made by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) of more than 110,000 government-tested food samples, and detailed government data on children’s food consumption, found that multiple pesticides known or suspected to cause brain and nervous system damage, cancer, or hormone interference are common in foods many children consume. Take apples as an example: The EWG found the average apple has residues of four pesticides after it is washed and cored. Some have residues of as many as ten. More than half of the children exposed to an unsafe dose of organophosphate insecticides get it from apples, apple sauce, or apple juice.

And it’s not just about the food we put on the table—widespread use of toxic agricultural chemicals threatens the health of farm workers, wildlife and delicate ecosystems.

We have a controversial food production system. If we think about it, this is a concern we might all be hungry to change.

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