Do you wash your fruits and vegetables? And does that vigilant washing really do any good? Can you really wash off pesticides and herbicides? These are great questions and need to be addressed here in the middle of summer with all of us eating more fresh foods, salads, greens, fruits and vegetables. Unless you are growing your own organic vegetables and fruits or purchasing from a known organic farmer, then your exposure to pesticides is real.
In a recent study by The Organic Center, pesticide usage on Genetically Engineered (GE), herbicide-tolerant (HT) crops has increased. Based upon data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), report author Dr. Charles Benbrook shows that glyphosate-based, HT corn, soybeans and cotton have increased herbicide use by 383 million pounds in the U.S. from 1996 to 2008 with 46 percent of the total increase occurring in 2007 and 2008.
“This unequivocal admission of serious problems with glyphosate-based HT cropping systems will hopefully accelerate major changes in where and how HT technology is deployed,” said Dr. Charles Benbrook, chief scientist of The Organic Center. “Such changes are needed to slow the increase in cash expenditures by farmers on herbicides and public health and environmental problems triggered by increased use of herbicides on GE crops.”
Remember that pesticides and herbicides often seep into the fruits and vegetables so even though we are washing the produce, we are still getting some of the chemicals. Choose wisely.
According to Dr. Benbrook, Organic farmers “accept a little weed pressure in their fields. The key to organic farming success in is the diversity of tools [to control weeds] on their farm.” Organic framers use crop rotation and cover crops to assist in weed control.
So look for local organic produce for your dinner table. Wash your fruits and vegetables.
Stay healthy and enjoy the rest of summer!