Tag Archives: consumers

Worst Produce for Pesticides

Don’t Buy Dirty

When it comes to produce, buying organic means not buying chemicals and pesticides with your food.

June 13, 2012

People can’t always buy organic for a variety of reasons: The local store may have limited supplies, they lack variety or cost is a consideration. But whatever the reason—or excuse—shoppers should be aware that some produce at the grocery store is more pesticide-laden than others.

Every year, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group tests all manner of produce for pesticides and chemicals to compile its list of the “Dirty Dozen,” and “Clean 15” foods. By using the list to choose the foods to buy organically, EWG says consumers can substantially lower their pesticide intake.

You would be surprised at the level of pesticide contamination found in common, conventionally grown food. According to EWG:
• Every sample of imported nectarines tested positive for pesticides, followed by apples (97.8 percent) and imported plums (97.2 percent).
• 92 percent of apples contained two or more pesticide residues‚ followed by imported nectarines (90.8 percent) and peaches (85.6 percent).
• Some 96 percent of all celery samples tested positive for pesticides, followed by cilantro (92.9 percent) and potatoes (91.4 percent).
• Nearly 90 percent of celery samples contained multiple pesticides, followed by cilantro (70.1 percent) and sweet bell peppers (69.4 percent).
• Hot peppers had been treated with as many as 97 pesticides, followed by cucumbers (68) and greens (66).

If that doesn’t underscore the need to “buy organic,” I don’t know what does. You might want to clip this out and keep it with you for handy reference when you go shopping.

According to EWG, if you choose five servings a day from the “Clean 15” instead of the “Dirty Dozen,” you can lower the volume of pesticide you consume daily by 92 percent. You’ll also eat fewer types of pesticides. Picking five from the “Dirty Dozen” would cause you to consume an average of 14 different pesticides a day, the EWG states. If you choose five servings from the “Clean 15,” you’ll consume fewer than two pesticides per day.

Additionally, because genetically modified, or GMO, seeds are more often used in conventionally raised corn, and the United States (unlike other countries) does not require GMO labeling, EWG recommends consumers only buy organic sweet corn; GMO seeds are banned in organic growing.

For more information, including a printable “Clean 15/Dirty Dozen” wallet card, visit http://www.ewg.org/foodnews.

The Clean 15
These are the lowest in contamination; if you must buy commercially raised products, stick to this list.

1. Onions
2. Sweet Corn
3. Pineapples
4. Avocados
5. Asparagus
6. Sweet peas
7. Mangoes
8. Eggplants
9. Cantaloupes, domestic
10. Kiwis
11. Cabbages
12. Watermelons
13. Sweet potatoes
14. Grapefruits
15. Mushrooms

The Dirty Dozen
Always buy these foods grown organically to avoid pesticide intake.

1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Strawberries
4. Peaches
5. Spinach
6. Nectarines, imported
7. Grapes, imported
8. Sweet bell peppers
9. Potatoes
10. Blueberries, domestic (These are grown locally in Mississippi; ask your farmer.)
11. Lettuce
12. Kale/collard greens

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit blueskywaters.com.

Consumer vs. Curator Society

Mindfulness & Awakening: Consumer v. Curator Society
May 9, 2012

Futurist William Gibson, in his book of essays, “Distrust That  Particular Flavor,” (Putnam, 2012, $26.95) says: “We are all curators in  the postmodern world, whether we want to be or not.”
It is this otaku (Japanese for a passive, obsessive need for  data), he says, that defines the emerging world and its generation. In  short, we are being defined as consumers. Curation—or our choices in  consumption—is mindless, or not, perhaps in degree.
It poses a challenge that an adoption of spiritual precepts can help  define.
Why not be mindful of this otaku, and acquire a “center” for it  within one’s being and, thus, urge it along with spiritual power?
It need not be confined within any specific religion or spiritual  discipline or modality, but only require the transcendence of want that  consumerism implies—toward choice, an informed mindfulness with  integrity.
The concepts are what’s important.
If there were a broad generational move to shift gears to a deeper  level, say from otaku to the Buddhist idea of vipassana (Sanscrit:  vipashyana), meaning a spiritual consciousness of seeing things as they  actually are, freeing the self from the emptiness of conditioned  phenomena, it could channel and propel the information age.
This internal recalibration of the inner compass could help people be  resistant to the delusional roller coaster of manipulation to which  consumers are prey. To be mindful in choices would be liberating on a  massive scale.
How to do this? Consider these questions, for the individual: What  makes us happy? What’s good for the planet? What provides wealth and  plenty for those we love?
This type of awakening for a path of consciousness, called “living in  right relationship,” is not new or confined to any one religion or way  or path, from Quakers to Buddhists to Native Americans. (Indeed, the  common method of vipassana retreat for meditation is similar to the  “vision quests” or “pipe fasts” practiced by native peoples.)
Bryan Welch, for example, in his book “Beautiful and Abundant: Building  the World We Want” (B&A Books, 2010, $9.99), offers Quaker-style  queries for readers as a guide for any course of action:
• Is it beautiful? (to engage human imagination);
• Does it create abundance? (to entice innovation);
• Is it fair? (so no one is marginalized, all can share);
• Is it contagious? (so it can “go viral” or create a “tipping point” for change).
Let us not be mere consumers, led by our desires and bedazzled by  what’s put before us from the outside. Let us practice mindfulness in  our choices and lead society, indeed the globe, through following a path  of right relationships, curating our lives and our world.

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit blueskywaters.com.

Certified organic no longer in Miss.?

Nov. 25, 2011

Certified organic ‘thing of the past’ in Mississippi?

Is having certified organic farms a thing of the past in Mississippi?
Maybe, maybe not. But the idea of it certainly caught a lot of organic growers by surprise at last week’s Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association conference in Vicksburg.
Dr. Bill Evans, Mississippi State University Truck Crops Experiment Station expert, told the group that as of Dec. 31, the state Department of Agriculture would no longer be a certifying agent for Mississippi growers.
The reason, he said, was budget cuts; it costs more than $3,000 per grower for the state to certify them as organic under the National Organic Program.
What this means for growers is that if one is already certified, he or she must turn to an outside agency to maintain certification, and pay for it out of pocket.
Flying in a certifier from another state and providing food and lodging can cost hundreds, perhaps, thousands of dollars. That’s a cost few farms can afford, especially mom-and-pop operations.
If one is wanting certification, but hasn’t obtained it, this means that one would have to apply for out-of-state certification – with no guarantees of availability.
There are only about 25 certified organic farms in the state. That number is likely to decline – dramatically.
For consumers, what this means is that if one is wanting certified organic produce, more of it will be from out of state, and possibly, foreign countries.
The upshot of all this, in my opinion, is that a simmering national issue in organics is locally coming to a head: small producers versus big producers.
One of the founders of the modern organic movement is Eliot Coleman of Four Seasons Farm in Maine. He was an adviser to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in formulating the organic program. But he has come to believe that giant food conglomerates have taken over the “organic” label to the detriment of sincere small farmers.
“In my opinion, ‘organic’ is now dead as a meaningful synonym for the highest quality food,” Coleman says. (See his full remarks, at:http://www.fourseasonfarm.com/pdfs/beyondorganic.pdf). He rejects organic
certification in favor of the term and procedures he defines as Authentic Food: Beyond Organic.
I think he’s on the right track; but with a caveat. I also believe that Maria Rodale, author of Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe, has to say about certified organic.
The granddaughter of one of the founders of the organic movement, J.I. Rodale, and CEO of Rodale Inc., she applauds the rise of organics under USDA supervision. She says, without it, safe, pesticide-free organic food would not be so widespread in supermarkets and available to consumers at an affordable price.
She’s got a point. But, honestly, I think there should be a middle way.
The paperwork (not to mention increasing expense) to be certified is ridiculous for a small farmer (5 to 10 acres; or under $50,000 gross).
Small farmers already cannot compete in price with giant 3,000-acre certified organic factory farms. That’s certainly not what the founders had in mind with the term “organic.” It’s not what the public expects, either.
There ought to be two tiers of USDA certification:
•One voluntary and inexpensive for small farmers, as is now done under the private Certified Naturally Grown process, with cooperative, volunteer third-party inspections;
•The other would be mandatory third-party government inspection, as with certified organic now, but for larger farms (above $50,000 gross), or those using government grants, loans or subsidies.
In any event, without some certifying agency, some Mississippians might have to do as Coleman suggests: Buy local and know your farmer. That’s more important than any government stamp, anyway.
•Recipe: From my beautiful wife Annette: Have blueberry bushes?If you do, chances are the leaves have turned a beautiful bright red. Now is the time to pick some, dry them at room temp and crumble for a delicious and high anti-oxidant tea.
Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit blueskywaters.com.