As an advocate for organic food and farming, you can imagine my shock when I heard a fellow registered dietitian (RD) discredit Consumer Reports’ new review on pesticides: “Eat the Peach, Not the Pesticide.” It’s core message, from well-respected scientists, is to buy organic produce whenever possible to protect our families, our environment, and farmworkers.

The RD in question told her audience: “I don’t want anyone to think they shouldn’t eat fruit.” Her answer to pesticide residues: “Just wash it.”

I spoke up: “Many pesticides are systemic,” I explained. “In other words, they can’t simply be washed off.”

Plus, there’s a much bigger issue here: our farming practices affect more than simply the end eater. Pesticides (including herbicides and fungicides) pollute our water, harm soil microbes, beneficial insects (think bees and Monarchs), plants, animals, and farm families.

Take Lake Apopka, outside Orlando, Florida. Attendees of the Beyond Pesticides Forum in April, learned that what was once a premier bass fishing lake in the 1950s, became toxic due to agricultural chemical runoff and a DDT spill. Former farmworker Linda Lee, described her symptoms of pesticide poisoning and the Lupus, diabetes, and cancers that still plague her family and community.

Then there’s the CHAMACOS study from California, highlighted at the Children’s Environmental Health Network  conference in February. It documents neurological damage to children exposed to pesticides.

On the heels of Mother’s Day, let’s help protect Mother Earth, and all her children. We can start by choosing organic food.

Learn more:
Watch presentations from the Beyond Pesticides Forum; tune into Food Sleuth Radio with Bruce Lanphear, M.D., MPH, on the impact of toxins on the developing brain; and, watch his short video on why “Little Things Matter.”

The author spending time celebrating nature with her son on Mother's Day. (photo taken by Robert Hemmelgarn)

The author spending time celebrating nature with her son on Mother’s Day. (Photo taken by Robert Hemmelgarn)