Monday, March 31, 2008

One More Reason to Buy Organic and Locally Grown

Did anyone else read the OP-ED about pesticides and songbirds in The Times yesterday? It talks about levels of pesticides used in Latin America and the deadly effect on North American songbirds. It also points out, briefly, that the areas in which the fruit and vegetables are grown are highly contaminated. Obviously, that can't be good for the people in the area. That's sort of an invisible aspect to the piece, however.

There are certain items I always try to buy organic. Being on leave from the Coop has made it difficult, if not impossible, to find organic grapes, for example. Since my baby loves blueberries, I cough up the $3.99 for a teeny-tiny clamshell of organic blueberries. We make those things last! We buy organic milk and organic yogurt to avoid fun additives like hormones and such. However, things that have peels are exceptions. Mangoes, lemons, oranges, bananas, avocados...I usually just get the everyday bargain available.

This OP-ED piece made me reconsider what I should be spending money on. The mangoes from Peru are my current guilty object. Not organic, they were probably grown with loads of pesticides. According to the author of this OP-ED, "Since the 1980s, pesticide use has increased fivefold in Latin America as countries have expanded their production of nontraditional crops to fuel the demand for fresh produce during winter in North America and Europe." Guilt! Our un-natural demand for things that have no business being eaten during Winter is causing extreme pesticide use in Latin American countries. It affects the residents, and it affects the animals that fly (and traipse) over the growing areas.

The types of pesticides and amounts used in these countries are illegal in the USA. However, we're still supporting their use through consumerism. As if the ugly turn in attitudes in the Democratic race isn't depressing enough. Now it's fruit and veggies! Oh, and coffee. Oh my. In case you don't get around to reading the article, here's the run-down of the top items to try to buy organic or US grown:

Organic Coffee is a biggie. Small coffee growers use the natural methods of shade and compost (leaf litter) to sustain their crops.

Organic bananas. Bananas are so bad for the soil as it is. According to the OP-ED, they are one of the crops that use the highest levels of pesticides. When I was in Costa Rica, my naturalist guide railed against banana crops in general due to their disproportionate use of the land's nutrients.

Only buy the following non-traditional Latin American crops if they are NOT grown in Latin America: strawberries, bell peppers, green beans, melons, tomatoes.

I suppose trying to buy food stuffs from local farms is the best idea. And local organic items are even better. It's expensive, but everything is getting more expensive. Also, I know that I could buy one less bag of chips to make up for the difference in price for mangoes or avocados. It's better for me anyway, right?

Here's the link to NYS Buy Fresh Buy Local.

1 comment:

Davey said...

Dang that is so true...the guilt is spreading like a blush on my redhead skin! I too, want to buy organic for my baby, at the very least, but where the heck do you buy organic around here. I guess I could send Davey in to Whole Foods while he's in the city. But are there Farmer's Markets around here that I could go to? I knew all the good places in AZ, not so much here. Grocery shopping is a hard transition!