Pesticides In Our Food
Our biggest fears stem from pesticides and the concern that those currently used to grow our food might someday prove to be carcinogenic, as DDT was discovered to be a generation ago.
“In 1993 the EPA estimated that over two billion pounds of pesticide-active ingredients a year are applied throughout the United States,” says Jay Feldman, director of the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides, in Washington, D.C. “So not only is American produce sprayed with a combination of pesticides, much of the fertilizer plowed into the fields is toxic, our food is often sprayed again on its way to market and once again at the market.”
Pesticides are poisons, designed to kill things that threaten our food supply: insecticides to kill the bugs that would eat a crop before we get the chance to, herbicides to halt invasive weeds, and fungicides to stave off decay. It seems silly to knowingly use such chemicals when they could be harmful, so why use pesticides at all? The reasons are practical, economic, and cosmetic: to supply high yields of crops, to reduce the cost and labor of farming, and to produce relatively unblemished, visually-appealing produce.
Why Locally Grown?
Most of us don’t stop to think about where our food comes from, but how far food travels to reach you has a significant impact on US and the environment. …Kiwis from New Zealand…Watermelons from Mexico…Bananas from Costa Rica. In fact, the average mouthful of food in the United States travels 1300 miles before it is finally eaten!
Locally-grown foods have major advantages:
- Because it is often eaten sooner after harvesting, local produce often does not need added wax, other preservatives, or chemical ripening agents.
- Locally-grown food is fresher and often tastes better because it doesn’t have to travel for days or weeks to reach your plate.
- A healthy local food system — including small family farms — helps create a thriving local economy. Buying produce locally helps these farms survive.
- Small local farms preserve precious open space and connect urbanites with the real sources of our food.
Locally-produced foods are better for the environment in several ways:
- Transporting food a few miles instead of thousands reduces fossil fuel emissions that contribute to air pollution, acid rain, and global warming.
- Local growers often use fewer or no pesticides as opposed to large commercial farms. This avoids polluting water supplies, is healthier for the environment, and reduces human health risks.