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Pesticides are a Danger to Health and the Environment - Choose Organic Food!

Pesticides are poisons!

Strawberries...and what else?

Fruit may look good, even taste good, but be extremely unsafe to eat

Picture a bowl of fresh, deep red strawberries. They look simply luscious, don’t they? Smell that wonderfully sweet berry fragrance. Ah-h-h-h….Now, dip your dessert spoon into the bowl, scoop up a big strawberry and prepare to take a bite of…POISON?

Want pesticides with that?

No, that word ("pesticides") is not a typo. If your bowl of strawberries was not grown by certified organic or naturally-grown/pesticide-free farming methods, chances are you’ll eat a large helping of pesticide residue along with your fruit. Penetrated by chemicals, strawberries grown by commercial farming methods may be very hazardous to your health.

There were probably multiple pesticides and fungicides used on the strawberry field if the berries in your bowl were conventionally grown. It’s the practice of commercial strawberry farmers to use different types (up to nine) during the various phases of the growth cycle. None of these chemical sprays can be considered healthy for you to consume, and your strawberries may contain residue from all of them.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now considers 60% of all herbicides, 90% of all fungicides, and 30% of all insecticides as potentially cancer-causing chemicals. A study by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry published in 2009 discovered that children living in homes where pesticides are used (even a can of bug spray) are twice as likely to develop brain cancer as those living in homes in which no pesticides are used. Do you really want to eat something linked to causing cancer? Do you want your loved ones to eat carcinogens or be exposed to carginogens in their environment?

Some pesticides cause harm to the central nervous system. Others may impair the hormonal glands of the endocrine system. Still other pesticides irritate the eyes and respiratory system, and long-term exposure may cause chronic illness. Pesticides may pose a higher risk to developing children, pregnant women (causing birth defects), people who have chronic illness or a compromised immune system, as well as the elderly.

Strawberries are high on the list of the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” (those produce items that retain the greatest amounts of pesticide residue), so it’s more likely your bowl has a hefty serving of them—pesticides, that is. You can find the EWG's complete list at the link below: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/

Bad, worse or worst?

California, where 38,000 acres of strawberry fields produce a large percentage of the U.S.commercial strawberry crop, approved methyl iodide to replace the banned pesticide methyl bromide. The latter chemical was internationally prohibited by the Clean Air Act and an international treaty because its use was damaging the ozone layer.

Methyl iodide is being used by commercial farmers in California, but not without protests from many quarters. In fact, a lawsuit was filed against the California Department of Pesticide Regulation by a group of California farm workers and an environmental organization in an attempt to halt the use of methyl iodide. Since the pesticide is generally applied at the rate of 100 pounds per acre and has a tendency to drift through the air, farm workers and residents of nearby communities are highly at risk from this toxic chemical.

The legal tactic didn’t work, for DPR head, Mary-Ann Warmerdam, went ahead and approved the pesticide’s use. It was immediately sprayed liberally onto chili pepper fields in the Fresno area. It was slated to be used on strawberry fields as well.

Warmerdam insists the state put in place “health protective measures” that she claims will allow methyl iodide to be used safely. She doesn’t say what those measures are, or how her agency can ensure that people who eat California berries and other produce sprayed with methyl iodide can avoid such devastating effects as neurological damage, fetal death and cancer. These were determined potential consequences of exposure to this chemical by scientific studies prior to its approval.

What do scientists think about it?

There were dissenters to Warmerdam’s decision from the DPR’s Scientific Review Committee, including the chairperson, John Foines, PhD, who said in an interview that he and everyone else on the committee think methyl iodide will cause disease and illness. Dr. Foines does not believe the strategies DPR proposed for mitigating the risks will be adequate, because, “…this is without question one of the most toxic chemicals on earth.”

The question goes begging: Why does the DPR have an advisory panel of scientists qualified to make recommendations about pesticides if what they counsel is going to be ignored? That makes about as much sense as the department’s name, since approval of a highly toxic chemical for use on food crops doesn't seem to me to actually be "regulation." What do you think?


When does "banned" REALLY mean banned?

The state of Louisiana also produces strawberries. A disturbing item seen on the website of the Louisiana State University Ag Center when this article was being researched was a recommendation for strawberry farmers to use the now-banned pesticide, methyl bromide, on top of the crop rows as an initial measure.

This is the actual information I found on that site in June, 2010:

Recommended Herbicides

Plastic mulch and fumigation with methyl bromide control most of the weeds on top of the row. Weeds are still a problem between the rows. Failure to control weeds in row middles will enhance the development of mites.

Thinking the information on the site might simply be out of date, I called various media contacts for the LSU Ag Center and finally talked to Dr. Donald M. Ferrin, Ph.D., Associate Professor in LSU’s Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology.

I asked Dr. Ferrin if it was true that the banned pesticide methyl bromide was still used on strawberry crops in Louisiana, as recommended on the LSU Ag Center website. He told me the pesticide was being slowly “phased out”, but would continue to be used until current supplies are depleted. (In a follow-up email, the professor stated the depletion of supplies would probably occur in 2013 or 2014.)

Dr. Ferrin went on to tell me that methyl bromide is a biocide injected into the soil before planting, and that it “...kills basically everything in the soil.”

I asked him if he was aware of the dangers of the pesticide methyl iodide, now approved by California to replace methyl bromide, and he answered, “It’s a poison.”

To which I replied, “They all are.”

Dr. Ferrin later sent me an email with this link for details regarding the latitude the U.S.government has given produce growers to continue using methyl bromide, after it was internationally banned.


Update, February, 2014: The link above shows that strawberries are still on the list of exemptions with regard to methyl bromide use. There are additional exemptions listed for 2015 and 2016, and strawberries stay on that list both those years. If you think the EPA gets in a hurry to rid food and the environment of poisonous substances that can harm humans and animals...think again!

UPDATE, February, 2015: The URL below takes you to the approved application for "critical use" of methyl bromide through 2016. (You may have to copy and paste it into your browser.)


Poison sprayed from the air drifts away from crops on wind

Poison sprayed from the air drifts away from crops on wind

Poison clouds

Unfortunately, pesticides (a term which includes insecticides, herbicides and fungicides) are all too commonly in use around the world. The stuff is sprayed in massive volume on commercial crops of vegetables and fruits. Have you ever noticed a crop-dusting plane dropping pesticide? The clouds of poison trailing behind it don’t all fall to the fields. Some of the chemical blows away to drift onto neighboring communities and bodies of water.

Pesticides are also used by many “family” farmers who subscribe to the theory that killing all insects is the only way to harvest a “good” crop. Poisons are deployed, not only during a crop’s growth phases, but often for spraying the ground soil after the harvest to control insects in it until time to plant again.

Rivers and Streams are Contaminated by Poisonous Chemicals


Where does all that pesticide go?

What happens to the pesticide that penetrates the soil? It may pass down through the earth to reach the water table. After a rain, toxic chemicals then travel through the ground or run off to reach nearby streams, rivers and lakes. Fish, frogs and other aquatic life are often victims of pesticides. Large fish kills due to water contamination by pesticides are not uncommon. Any contact by humans with water that is so tainted is potentially dangerous.

Lawn and garden care can be hazardous to health.

What's so terrible about a little crab grass and errant weeds?

What's so terrible about a little crab grass and errant weeds?

Herbicides are poisons, too!

Let’s not forget all the toxic chemicals used on lawns. Rather than pulling weeds by hand, many residents now reach for a jug of herbicide to spray the offending weeds or pre-treat an entire lawn to prevent weeds from sprouting. It’s a common misperception that herbicides aren’t dangerous to humans or the environment. That simply is not true. Lawn-care chemicals are toxic and often used in large volume or indiscriminately; therefore, they are very dangerous indeed.

Are those strawberries safe to eat?

You can buy fresh or frozen certified organic fruit. You must still wash it before eating.

You can buy fresh or frozen certified organic fruit. You must still wash it before eating.

Go for Organic without Breaking the Bank

Okay, let’s get back to that bowl of strawberries. Uh…you’re not really hungry now? I’m really glad you aren’t going to eat that particular bowl of strawberries. I hope you will now pass up all fruits and vegetables except those grown by true organic or naturally-grown/pesticide-free methods.

By the way, if you subscribe to the theory that buying organic foods is prohibitively expensive, please check out the link (below) to a book that proves otherwise. It's WILDLY AFFORDABLE ORGANIC by Linda Watson, who says you can "Eat Fabulous Food, Get Healthy and Save the Planet - All on $5 a Day or Less."

Inspired by writer Michael Pollan and the Food Stamp Challenge (linked to the national Food Stamp daily average of $1.00 per meal per person), she and her husband began the challenge with the goal of eating organic while spending only $5 or less per day. The book is available on Amazon for a discount price (see link below), and in it Watson tells you in detail how you too can eat healthy organic food at much less cost than eating junk food. A word of warning: you won't be eating junk food or even convenience food. Get ready to cook, but you may find yourself enjoying it...especially when you can eat delicious meals that are both thrifty and healthy. Why not challenge yourself to follow in Linda Watson's footsteps? Her book tells you how and contains numerous luscious healthy recipes to help you along.

If there's a Whole Foods Market near you, watch for sales on fresh organic produce, and buy organic bulk nuts, organic bulk spices and other bulk foods to save money. The store brand, 365, has some good prices on organic processed foods that help you stay on budget. Whenever buying anything that comes packaged, remember to read the label thoroughly so you will know what, if any, additives it contains. (UPDATE, March, 2015: Vani Hari's book, "The Food Babe Way" (it actually has a very long subtitle) is now on sale and provides a mind-blowing list of some unsafe and really gross additives put into the U.S. food supply. I highly recommend this book. Don't read it just before you eat, though, or you may get queasy when you learn the source of some "natural" flavorings!)

Herbicides--not safe for kids

Don't use herbicides on your lawn where kids will play.

Don't use herbicides on your lawn where kids will play.

Herbicides--not safe for pets

Herbicides should not be used on lawns where pets play.

Herbicides should not be used on lawns where pets play.

Avoid the use of herbicides and other chemicals on your lawn

We all know that kids and pets like to play outdoors. Children may lie down on the ground, roll around on it and even nibble on blades of grass. Pets roll in the grass and eat plants. Some even stay outdoors much of the time. While herbicides are also dangerous to adults, at least our immune systems are not quite as vulnerable as those of growing children or pets. Organophosphate herbicides have been strongly implicated in children diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), even with relatively low levels of exposure.

Pets, particularly dogs, are vulnerable to cancer from ingesting pesticide or walking in chemically-treated turf. Canine malignant lymphoma can be the heartbreaking result.

Herbicides are dangerous for birds and other wildlife

It's dangerous for this little bird to eat anything from herbicide-treated turf or it may die.

It's dangerous for this little bird to eat anything from herbicide-treated turf or it may die.

Other victims of pesticides

Herbicide-treated turf is infamous for killing birds. The chemical Diazinon is so lethal that grazing on grass treated with this poison can kill a bird in only 15 minutes. There have been numerous documented incidents of bird kills (up to 1000 birds an incident) in the U.S.

Healthy soil contains millions of “good” microorganisms that help plants use nutrients for growth. They are also needed to hold water in the soil, regulate water flow and filter pollutants. Heavy use of pesticides causes soil to degrade from the loss of microorganisms. Finally, the soil cannot hold nutrients that plants need to grow healthy.

If the saying, “You are what you eat” is true for people, it is also true for animals. Pets should be fed certified organic pet food. Corn, one of the most common ingredients in non-organic pet foods and also in feed for meat animals, is heavily contaminated by pesticides. (Commercial feed for meat animals is also genetically modified, or GMO, if that’s a concern.) Therefore, the animals that eat it, both family pets as well as animals destined for the slaughterhouse, are affected by their food’s toxicity. (Take that a step further, and think about eating meat that is contaminated by pesticide-laden feed.)

Grow your own produce!

Natalie Nauer and her husband Tony work hard in their garden to produce a bountiful crop of delicious vegetables to eat in-season and can or freeze for the winter.

Natalie Nauer and her husband Tony work hard in their garden to produce a bountiful crop of delicious vegetables to eat in-season and can or freeze for the winter.

Buy organic or naturally-grown/pesticide-free produce

A booth of organic veggies at my local farmers market

A booth of organic veggies at my local farmers market

Buy locally-grown produce grown without pesticides when possible

Produce with the "USDA Certified Organic" seal that you find in the supermarket is not completely pesticide-free, though concentrations are minute in comparison with that found in produce grown by traditional methods. When you buy locally-grown safe fruits and vegetables, you are not only making a healthy decision, you are helping reduce the earth's carbon footprint. Food grown nearby and harvested shortly before you buy it tastes so much better than food that's been trucked across the continent or even imported from another country.

Look at the booths in your local farmers market and ask around until you find at least one (preferably several) growers who sell certified organic or pesticide-free foods. Safe produce may not look quite as pretty as produce sprayed with pesticides. It may have slight blemishes. But locally-grown, pesticide-free fruits and veggies are much healthier. There's a price paid that has nothing to do with money to make a peach look picture perfect!


Speaking of money, safer produce may cost more, but please don’t let that stop you from buying it. Isn’t it worth the extra price in terms of good health for you and your family? You can’t really put a price tag on health and safety, can you? Once you or a family member contracts a serious disease, such as cancer, that might have been avoided, the cost for medical care--not to mention the pain, suffering and mental anguish--make the slightly higher cost of safe organic food pale in significance. Don't wait until it's too late to make the right choice. Switch to organic foods before you or someone you love sickens from pesticide poison.

Whenever someone tells me, "I can't afford to buy organic food," I always equate that statement with the one made by someone who knows the dangers of smoking (usually made while waving a lit cigarette in the air): "Well...we all have to die from something, don't we?"

Yes we will all die from something, but it's foolish to rush the process with an unhealthy lifestyle. Eating pesticide-laden produce and factory-farmed meats full of antibiotics, hormones and other toxins is as dangerous to our health (and that of our families) as smoking. Eating "clean" is a health choice as much as a dietary one. It's hard to believe that buying cheaper food could be more of a priority for parents than protecting their growing children's health.

By the way, even organic produce should be thoroughly washed before eating. The absence of pesticide residue does not mean there are no bacteria lurking within organic lettuce leaves or on that luscious-looking tomato. E. coli and salmonella are just two of the pathogens that can make you very ill.

Here's the formula for an inexpensive and easy-to-make produce wash: In a spray bottle, mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar and 1 cup cold water. Shake well to mix, spray on your produce (even those fruits and veggies you're planning to peel) and rinse before eating. Be sure to thoroughly wash your hands after handling fresh produce, too.


Update, 2014: By the way, last summer I bought delicious fresh USDA-certified organic strawberries at my local Fresh Market. They were displayed side-by-side with "conventionally-grown" (meaning pesticides were used) berries that looked the same. The organic berries (a 1/2-pint size carton) cost $1 more than the pesticide-laden berries. Why on earth would I--or anyone--buy poisoned berries to save one dollar? It boggles the mind!

Update, March 22, 2015: Yesterday the World Health Organization announced that Monsanto's Roundup is likely a carcinogen. That's a very good reason to avoid GMOs and buy organics.

Fresh, "no-pesticides-used" tomatoes....yum!

I bought these tomatoes at my local farmers market July 2, 2011 from a grower who does not spray with pesticides.

I bought these tomatoes at my local farmers market July 2, 2011 from a grower who does not spray with pesticides.

When Fresh Organic Berries are Out of Season, Buy Organic Frozen

A dish of "non-poisoned" strawberries--good to eat, and good for you!

A dish of "non-poisoned" strawberries--good to eat, and good for you!

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Vani Hari talks about "conventionally" grown strawberries

  • Healthy Strawberry Cobbler
    Healthy Strawberry Cobbler ....Did you know a typical conventional strawberry can have up to 54 pesticides on it? 9 are known carcinogens and 19 of them are toxic to honey bees.

© 2011 Jaye Denman


Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on March 22, 2015:

Thanks, Shyron - I no longer trust the FDA, EPA, or in many instances the USDA to protect the interests of American consumers because they're too busy kowtowing to corporate interests, such as Big Ag, Big Pharma, and Monsanto. Fortunately, there's a very large movement of angry Americans fighting back on social media, and it's growing. If the politicians in Washington don't pay attention to all of us, they may be job-hunting. Of course, Monsanto promises slots on their Board to those who further their interests, and I'm sure they're already filling the offshore bank accounts of those in Congress who do their bidding to the detriment of American citizens. Join the fight for a safe food supply!

Blessings and hugs to you too, Shyron. I hope you weekend was good. Jaye

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on March 22, 2015:

Jaye, thank you for writing this. I thought that the EPA and the FDA were/are looking out for the use of these chemicals.

Your research is so thorough, wow! Just want you to know that I appreciate the work that went into writing this article.

Voted up across the board except funny.

Blessing and Hugs


Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on September 17, 2014:

Thank you, Ecogranny - The use (overuse, actually) of increasingly toxic pesticides is a problem which worries me intensely. Although numerous studies have found these chemicals to be carcinogenic, to interfere with the central nervous system, to cause birth defects and other horrendous effects on the body, the EPA continues to approve them in what they term 'safe' amounts. And this approval is only for the so-called 'active' ingredients of pesticides (including insecticides, fungicides, herbicides), not the 'inert' ingredients. I read only yesterday about a lawsuit against the EPA that's trying to force them into divulging the level of toxicity in the inert ingredients, which may also be extremely hazardous.

However, when you consider the cumulative effect--especially on developing children--it is easy to see why cancer rates continue to be so high in all ages. People are literally eating poison when they ingest conventionally grown produce with pesticide residue from multiple sprayings over the crop growth season.

I understand that many people are struggling with expenses in this economy, especially those feeding families. That is why I recommend the book, "Wildly Affordable Organic" (link above). The author actually budgeted the amount afforded by the food stamp program ($5 a day per person) and showed that it's possible to eat healthy, non-toxic food for that amount. However, eating organic without breaking the bank requires a lot of cooking rather than eating 'convenience' foods (processed) or frequenting fast food drive-thru windows.

It's a question of priorities. Spend now for healthier food choices or spend later on medical bills and pay an even higher price in wrecked health? As you can see, I'm passionate about the topic and tend to get on my soapbox with only a tiny bit of encouragement! Thanks for your own commitment to educating others about healthy eating....Regards, Jaye

Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on September 16, 2014:

Thank you for helping to get the word out about this important topic. Pesticides and herbicides are now being used in such strong formulations, that I wonder if there is any escaping them, even for those of us who eat only organic produce.

As for families who may not spend that extra dollar for organic foods, I understand very well that some families have to struggle incredibly hard just to keep any food on the table all month long. I don't fault them for making the choices they do. They have to save every penny they can every way they can.

Everyone else, well, yes, I have to think they don't feel they can afford organic because they don't understand the risks of conventionally grown. Pages like this help to educate, and I thank you for that.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on February 28, 2014:

Cygnetbrown - Good for you for growing your own food! I wish that I were physically able to do so, but am not. I do purchase as much as possible from the few organic farmers who sell at my local farmers market. The best I can do otherwise is to look for two phrases on fresh or frozen foods I buy at the supermarket: (1) "certified USDA organic" and (2) "product of the USA." I don't buy anything produced or processed in any of the Asian countries (which lack safety standards and have too much pollution), nor do I trust safety growing standards of foods from Mexico. There have been too many recalls of foods produced in Mexico for me to feel safe about them.

Even with my buying practices of organic, locally or USA-grown, I still wash all fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly using my homemade produce wash (vinegar and lemon juice added to water).

Thanks for reading and for your comment. Regards, Jaye

Cygnet Brown from Springfield, Missouri on February 28, 2014:

I have come to the conclusion that the safest way to get food on the table is to grow it myself. The military has long known that E-coli from local sources cause fewer problems than E-coli from long distance sources. It is certainly amazing what you can grow in a backyard garden. Far healthier too!

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on February 28, 2014:

Jodah - I'm with you all the way in your crusade against Monsanto and GMOs. I am also terrified of Roundup. Here in the U.S. the government agency that is supposed to protect us from unsafe food and drugs cannot be trusted because its deputy director is a former Monstanto attorney! But there is a grassroots movement in this country to force labeling of GMOs. Until we are victorious against Monsanto, we can avoid GMOs by eating organic foods. Thanks for reading and your comments. Regards, JAYE

Nadine - Thanks for your comments and for sharing this article and helping spread the word that pesticides and herbicides are dangerous to health. You are wise to purchase from an organic market as well as to grow your own salad vegetables. Regards, JAYE

TotalHealth - Unfortunately, many people believe that the "certified organic" label makes a food completely safe. Yes, that food is safer than one conventionally grown with pesticides and other harmful additives, and farms that are certified to produce organic foods adhere to strict standards as well as regular inspections to ensure they do so. However, organic foods still have the potential to be contaminated by such organisms as salmonella, E. coli, etc., just as conventionally grown foods do.

I thoroughly wash produce before use, even the types that I peel such as potatoes, and remove outer leaves of cabbage and lettuce as well. Although a relatively small percentage of foods (organic or conventional) causes food-borne illness from salmonella, E. coli, and other dangerous organisms, food safety is too important to leave to chance.

Thanks for reading and for your remarks. Regards, JAYE

TotalHealth from Hermosa Beach, CA on February 28, 2014:

While I agree that pesticides are bad and when possible it is better, under most circumstances, to eat organic it does, however, as you pointed out, come with inherent risks of bacteria contamination. Wash, wash, wash...

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on February 28, 2014:

That was truly a great and informative hub on the topic of pesticides. I'm from South Africa so I would not know how badly we are affected by pesticides. I'm sure our farmers use them, but we buy our veggies and fruit from an organic market. We grow herbs and salads in containers on our property, but only as a supplement for our meals. I will share this article of yours on my Facebook and other network pages because I think this information MUST be shared! Thank you!

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on February 27, 2014:

What a great hub Jaye, full of important and scary facts, but things everyone needs to be award of. I am in a crusade against GMOs and Monsanto and I applaud you for writing this. You are right when you ask the question why would you risk your health and that of your children to save a buck? Crazy. I have just read that Monsanto's Round Up has been linked to kidney disease. I have to check that out further. Voted up and shared.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on February 27, 2014:

Audrey - My feelings about Monsanto are just as strong as yours! More and more people are realizing that pesticides may be causing many of today's diseases and switching to organics. Even better, those who can are growing their own food, which is a terrific movement. Thanks for reading and adding your comment. Jaye

VVanNess - Thank you, and please be cautious while you're pregnant, eating organic when at all possible and washing all produce (even organic) for your health and the health of your baby. Best wishes for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Jaye

Victoria Van Ness from Fountain, CO on February 27, 2014:

I knew about a dozen or so harmful practices that were being used with our foods, but this was one subject that has been especially close to home lately. I don't think I've ever taken the time to wash my fruits and vegetables before eating them, but being pregnant, I've been warned that this is a big one for me. Thank you for the great tips and wonderful information. I hope many benefit from this and heed your warnings.

Audrey Howitt from California on February 27, 2014:

Organic is the only sustainable way to go! Hate monsanto and it's pesticides!

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on February 27, 2014:

Alison - Thanks for reading and for your comment. Yes, knowing about the "unsafety" of the commercial food supply is indeed scary. It's great that you and your husband are growing much of your own food. I recently read a book that may interest you. It's "Wildly Affordable Organic" by Linda Watson, who tells readers how to eat healthily on $5 a day or less. The Amazon link for this book is now at the bottom of the article.



Alison Graham from UK on February 26, 2014:

Jaye, this is such a great article (if a little scary!). My husband and I grow what we can including soft fruits but inevitably we have to buy a lot from the store and being on a tight budget cannot afford to buy everything organic here in the UK. There can be no doubt that the explosion in Cancers and Neuro-Degenerative disorders in the population has a connection to the toxins we put (unknowingly) into our bodies every day - even in the air that we breathe.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on July 24, 2013:

Mommymay...I'm so glad that you're feeding your family organic foods. We have a limited influence over the food supply in the U.S. since the FDA and even Congress choose to ignore the wishes so many citizens have expressed about food safety. Selecting organic foods is the only way we can be certain of not only avoiding toxic pesticide and herbicide residues in food, but also avoiding unlabeled GMOs.

Your mother's misconceptions about what "organic" means relative to food isn't that unusual. While there is a wealth of information about the topic at our fingertips on the Internet, in books, magazines, etc., not everyone cares. Many people stick to old habits where food is concerned because they're comfortable, and, in doing so, rob themselves of the benefits eating more healthily could provide.

Perhaps if you give your mom more information about the meaning and benefits of food raised organically...in small "doses" and in ways likely to pique her interest (for example, if she trusts a particular women's magazine, search for an enlightening article about organic food in that publication), she might come to understand why you've chosen to feed your family this way and get on board with your choice.

Thanks for reading and commenting about this article.



Heather May from Ohio on July 24, 2013:

My family only eats organically now and I have been surprised at the misconceptions of what people think "organic" is. My mom actually accused me of not giving my kids enough sugar! She said that they may catch colds more easily as their immune systems would be down and their bodies in shock! No wonder I have always struggled with my weight! I tried explaining that they do have sugar "organic" sugar...still, she doesn't get it! She sneaks candy and cookies into my kids all the time. She did point out that one was sugar free...loaded with Sweet and Low! UGH!

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on April 06, 2013:

You are so right, Au fait....The safety--rather, the NON-safety of our food supply should be foremost in the minds of all consumers, especially since the government (in the USA, at any rate) seems focused on protecting corporations who produce and distribute unhealthy food products rather than the welfare of consumers.

It's not only food, either (here I go on my soapbox!), but so many other toxic chemicals in everything from household cleaning products to toothpaste, toiletries and even cosmetics. Did you know that most lipsticks, especially red, contain dangerous amounts of lead? So many products are not regulated for toxic additives that our lives and health are endangered every day. It's difficult to keep up with all the dangers when you know they exist, and many people are completely unaware of them.

Thanks for reading and commenting.


C E Clark from North Texas on April 06, 2013:

This is an excellent article and a scary article that everyone should read. There are so many health issues nowadays and getting to be more that are strange and sometimes unexplained. With so many poisons being used not only on our food, it's a wonder we haven't obliterated ourselves.

I don't think it's nuclear war we need to fear, but all the poisonous chemicals we are using on ourselves. It's gotten to where poisonous chemicals should one of the food groups!

Voted up and UI,

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on February 27, 2013:

cygnetbrown...You were ahead of your time if you were gardening organically 40 years ago. Just think of the toxins you've prevented from entering your body!

I, too, seek out certified organic growers at my local farmers market, but found--as you have--that some not certified don't use pesticides. However, I discovered that one grower who doesn't spay her crops mulches them with leaves and pine straw gathered from other people's lawns. Therefore, she can't vouch for them not having Roundup or other herbicide residue...and she's quick to say that. She always has a lovely variety of squash, plus heirloom tomatoes, but--knowing how many people poison their lawns--I'm afraid that water draining through the mulch gets into her produce and nullifies her non-spraying practice.

Thanks for reading and commenting. Stay healthy!


Cygnet Brown from Springfield, Missouri on February 27, 2013:

I have been a big fan of organic produce and anti-pesticides for over 40 years! When I lived in the country, I grew a lot of my own produce partly because I wanted guaranteed organic but also because I loved that connection I had with nature when I was gardening. Now that I live in the city I frequent the farmers market and though many of them don't certify organic, after talking with them, I discover that they do organic practices, they just haven't certified. I discovered though, that not everyone who sells at the farmer's market is as enlightened, but talking with the farmers give me some clue on what is safe and what is not.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on February 08, 2013:

justmesuzanne....I assume you're referring to my "rant" about the types of ads shown on this hub shortly after I published it. Thanks for the info. I'll check it out. I definitely don't want ads for poisonous pesticides accompanying this article. Thanks for reading and your response. JAYE

justmesuzanne from Texas on February 08, 2013:

You can control that, but I can't remember how. Ask the powers that be. I think it's in your Google AdSense settings.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on February 07, 2013:

Thank you for your comments, Olde Cashmere, and for sharing this message.

The fact that these dangerous pesticides continue to be used is due to the influence (bought and paid for with billions of ill-gotten dollars) by Monsanto and other huge chemical companies. Here in the U.S., a former Monsanto attorney is one of the top directors of the FDA. That's like putting the fox to guard the hen house! The FDA has become a corrupt government agency that looks out only for the interests of these big companies--not for the interests and well-being of consumers.


Olde Cashmere on February 07, 2013:

The fact these pesticides are still being used in these times is beyond comprehension. Not only are they a threat against the environment and animals, they are a massive threat against humanity. Voting this up and rating useful and interesting. Sharing as well. This is an important message.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on July 01, 2012:

Hi, sg....Thanks for stopping by, and thanks so much for your positive comments. Great to learn you grow your own veggies and have hens for fresh eggs. This is a growing trend as more and more people don't trust the food in supermarkets.

If we eat more of what our grandmothers cooked (more fresh, locally grown food, less packaged/processed "foods"), and less of the many "convenience foods" readily available at the grocery store, we're much more likely to be healthy. Progress in the processing of food is not really "progress"...it's several steps backward and is to blame for many health problems so prevalent these days, such as diabetes.

Hope you're having a wonderful harvest in Oklahoma!


Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on July 01, 2012:

My husband and I grown most of our own vegetables. We use venison rather than beef most of the time. We also have chickens for our eggs. I couldn't raise chickens for food, as I would have named them and can't eat anything I have named. LOL More and more people are growing their own food now and I hope it continues as it is so important. Thank you for bringing us so much helpful information. Voted up, useful and sharing! Have a wonderful day! :)

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on March 08, 2012:

Thanks, Emma....

It's wonderful you can grow your own produce. It will taste better than anything you could buy in a supermarket, and you'll know how it was grown. You should be very proud of yourself for making this effort.

Organic processed food is generally more expensive than fresh organic veggies and fruits, although even those cost a bit more than produce traditionally grown with pesticides. I don't consider it too high a price to pay for good health. It may require some tweaking of the budget, but I'd rather do without something else to ensure the food I eat and feed my loved ones is healthy and safe.

Fortunately, the farmers markets around the country provide a wonderful variety of fruits and veggies, much of it certified organic or naturally grown without pesticides. (There are a couple of farmers at the market where I shop who have gorgeous and wonderful-tasting hydoponically grown tomatoes...no pesticides, just flavor.)

It's a movement toward healthier eating that I hope continues to grow. Good luck with your garden, Emma.


Each year the Environmental Working Group publishes two lists of foods that have been tested for pesticide residue. The first list, "The Dirty Dozen", lists the top twelve foods that contained the highest levels of pesticide, some with as many as 60-plus different chemicals. Even if people don't buy all organic produce, they should make every effort to purchase organic versions of those twelve items.

The second list, "Clean Fifteen", are foods which tested with the lowest amounts of pesticide residue. Mainly, they are foods that have thick peels or shells, such as pineapple,

Emma Kisby from Berkshire, UK on March 08, 2012:

This hub is so interesting and opens our eyes to what goes on our food, and into our mouths.

Organic food does appear to come with a price, but this goes to show that we really should be going organic.

This year I have planted my own fruit and veg and intend to be as self sufficient as possible. At least I know where it has come from then.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on February 28, 2012:

Hi, ustad....Thanks for your comment.

You're right--irrigation of crops with polluted water is a dreadful practice that causes disease and death. While it's more prevalent in underdeveloped countries, it's not limited to them. Unfortunately, the runoff from industrial waste pollutes rivers and streams that infect the water table with toxins in many countries where consumers think produce is grown in better conditions.

Industrial waste is a hazard that should be addressed, but--because these corporations put lobbying money in the campaign coffers of politicians--isn't likely to be corrected by governments.

Because of this government laxity and the failure of agencies that are supposed to protect consumers, but don't, (FDA and USDA in America), there are independent organizations trying to reach ordinary citizens and get them to sign petitions against these practices. There's a slim ray of hope....

Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. By the way, I'm planning to read your environmental hubs, but the accounting articles are too advanced for my accounting-challenged intellect! (See my profile to understand that statement.)


ustad from Pakistan on February 28, 2012:

very useful information!

in many underdeveloped countries vegitables crops are fed with dangeoursly polluted water with industrial waste, and such produce is underlying reason for major diseases.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on December 15, 2011:

Thanks so much for the comment, Movie Master! Organically grown produce tastes so good, as well as being healthy. I can't understand why more people don't insist on it.

Fortunately, there's a growing number of people who are growing and harvesting their own naturally-grown foods, rather than depending on supermarket produce with pesticide residue. (This movement of small personal veggie gardens is reminiscent of the "victory gardens" during WWII.) I'm not a gardener, so I visit my local farmers market every week, where I've made the acquaintence of a few select organic farmers and a couple who grow foods hydroponically.

I applaud you for growing organic strawberries. They must have been quite a treat!

Regards, JAYE

Movie Master from United Kingdom on December 15, 2011:

Hi Jaye, this is a real eye-opener! thank you for the information, I try and grow as much as possible organically now, this year I grew strawberries and they were so good!

voted up, best wishes MM

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on September 11, 2011:

Thanks, Barbsbitspieces, for reading and commenting. It's becoming more and more difficult to find safe foods in our markets. I'm working on a new hub about the increase in foods from China (including packaged foods with the names of U.S. companies on the wrapping) and the dangers of these products. Please watch for it!


Barbara Anne Helberg from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA on September 01, 2011:

@JayeWisdom...Thanks for sharing this important information in a Hub chock full of alternative advice and concern over pesticides and herbicides we all ingest (without thinking about it) every day!!

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on August 23, 2011:

Thanks, Bobbi, Wesman and OldCoinCollector, for reading this and for your comments. Glad you're all eating safe food, and hope you will pass along this message.

I only wish I could get more people to actually believe in the potential harm from pesticide-laden foods, as well as the danger to children and pets from pesticide and herbacide lawn care products. So many folks are in denial! It is incredibly frustrating to me when I tell people about the dangers, but they refuse to believe what I'm saying is true. This includes some of my own family members and friends. People who will waste money on so many unimportant items balk at paying a bit more for safe food. Ar-r-r-rgh!

As for the FDA and OSHA, I trust neither agency to look after the interests (and safety) of the American consumer. Their agendas are to protect the profits of big business--both the pharmaceutical industry and the corporations responsible for factory farming.


oldcoincollector on August 23, 2011:

WoW! What a lot of info you have here in one hub! This is definitely a serious concern at our house and we are known to pay a bit more for clean organic when we have the choice

Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on August 22, 2011:

Thank you for publishing this! PLEASE rant some more!

The American food and drug administration isn't protecting anyone - it seems rather obvious that it is, in fact, seeking to poison everyone.

BobbiRant from New York on August 22, 2011:

I only eat my own. I so agree with you. At least from my own garden I know what's on them. Great hub.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on August 19, 2011:

I, too, recall walking out to the garden with my grandmother many decades ago and picking tomatoes or berries to eat in hand. Now, there is very little produce I will eat unless it is guaranteed to be organic, pesticide-free.

I only buy in non-organic form those types of produce that have a very strong outer layer of defense against pesticide residue (such as onions or pineapple). They are on the "clean fifteen" list of fruits and veggies that test extremely low in toxic residue.

I don't touch any berries or tomatoes except the organic, grown without pesticide varieties. It worries me that so many people eat (and feed to their children) food that is full of poison because they are unaware of the danger.

Thanks for your comment.


Dave from United States on August 19, 2011:

I remember back in the day, my grandmother and I would walk out to the fields and grab a tomato, wash it off, and eat it, right there. I wouldn't dare try that today. Great Hub!

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on July 10, 2011:

Thanks, Suzanne...I'm trying to do my bit toward promoting safer food for everyone. The idea of people (especially children) eating pesticide residue is one I find repulsive and scary. I'm glad you found the article useful.


justmesuzanne from Texas on July 10, 2011:

Thanks for great info and a valuable article. Voted up and useful! :)

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on July 03, 2011:

Hi, Stephanie...While researching for this hub, I ran across the name of Jim Cochran, owner of Swanton Berry Farm in Davenport, California. Mr. Cochran was quoted as saying, "I've been growing strawberries without using pesticides in California for 25 years. It's certainly possible to grow commercially-viable and ecologically sound strawberry crops (without the use of pesticides)."

So...if you start craving safe strawberries, maybe you can get some shipped to you from Swanton Berry Farm. Even frozen organic berries are good, and you can likely find those at either a large supermarket or a health foods market.

Since you're a gardener, you may want to grow your own organic strawberries! I've read some instructions that look pretty easy. Unfortunately, I've never been a gardener, and now arthritis prevents me from trying it.

The state I live in (Mississippi) is known for raising blueberries, but I have yet to find a local organic blueberry farmer. That means that the blueberries I eat are frozen, and the package has the organic seal that doesn't guarantee a small amount of pesticide wasn't used. I'm still looking for that local organic blueberry grower, though. I won't give up!


Stephanie Henkel from USA on July 03, 2011:

I found your hub so informative as well as scary! Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits, but I've always hated the thought of the pesticides used to grow them. Now I will have a hard time ever buying them in the grocery store! The sad thing is that we live in an area of beautiful garden farms and huge local farmer's markets. Unfortunately, not very much of the produce is organically grown. As a gardener, I can understand the difficulties of keeping diseases and pests under control, but I'd still rather deal with that than eat poison! Thanks for an eye-opening hub!

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on July 03, 2011:

Thanks, citychick...I'm glad you're eating organic, too. Fortunately, more and more people are either growing their own food by organic methods or buying locally from organic growers. The produce farmers in my state have been a bit slow to embrace organic methods (there's another hub in that), but their number is growing.


citychick from Ulster County, New York on July 03, 2011:

I agree, Jaye...there are people who will always try to rationalize their reasons for not spending extra money on organic products. That's their right, but it doesn't change the facts...we've been buying organic for years, and have stopped eating other foods altogether b/c we don't know where they come from...people spend more time on their houses and cars than they do on their food choices. Bravo! Keep on writing.

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on July 03, 2011:

Hi, Merlin...You are right--I will likely catch some flack for speaking out against our food, air and water being poisoned. What drives me up the wall is the complacence of so many people who either don't want to know about these problems or are in complete denial.

Your question is valid. I think the "real" price for cheap food is much too high in terms of health and safety, and it's paid also by people who try to eat and live organically. When the atmosphere and water are poisoned as well, we can't escape all the effects of toxic chemicals simply by careful food choices. It's a start, though.

Thanks for your comments.


Merlin Fraser from Cotswold Hills on July 03, 2011:

Rant all you want Jaye no doubt you will be branded a scare monger and anti capitalist but we should have the right to know exactly what covers our food, what is contaminating the air we breathe and is leaching into the water table below ground level.

It’s all very well that some of us try to live and eat organically but what’s the point if the environment around us is polluted with this crap.

The question I want answered is , “Is the price we pay for cheap food a little too High ?”

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on July 02, 2011:

Thanks, Paradise, for your terrific comments. So glad you enjoy fruits and veggies, especially the organic variety. Aren't farmers markets great? (And, don't worry...I'll keep writing, though slowly.)


ParadiseForever from Chennai, India. on July 02, 2011:

Rated 'useful' and 'up'! Wonderful information for one and all who eat fruits and vegetables. I really like to use organic things and love to visit farmer's market always. Keep writing!

Jaye Denman (author) from Deep South, USA on July 02, 2011:

THIS IS A RANT: I just want to state that I'm not happy there are ads for pesticide formulating, lawn weed control and exterminators on this hub! Of course, they are probably there due to keywords, and I have no control over them anyway. But it is very irritating to write AGAINST those things and then have such advertisements placed on the same page.


Of course, the ads have now rotated, so the worst ones are not there now. JayeWisdom

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