Moment of Wellness with Danette Vernon
By Danette Vernon
I once worked at a children’s shelter, a place that housed children who were victims of abuse and neglect, and after we all visited a strawberry farm one morning, I asked if they knew why organic was important. No, they did not.
So I set up a quick demonstration at the kitchen counter. I took a lovely, red-ripe strawberry and sprinkled it with Comet. I rinsed it, and re-sprinkled it; rinsed it and re-sprinkled it — 30 times. Thirty is the average number of chemicals on, and in, your non-organic strawberry. I then offered the strawberry to the children and teens at the counter. It was rinsed to sparkling clean again, gleaming with water drop-lets caught by the light — no takers. Why? I had rinsed all of the Comet off! Why not eat it? Isn’t it the same as it was before?
Yet, that’s the quality of the food that WE eat every day. New science says that we are exposed to 30,000 to 50, 000 more chemicals than our grandparents, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers 60 percent of herbicides, 90 percent of fungicides and 30 percent of insecticides to be carcinogenic. Cancer death rates in 1958 were one in seven for women, and one in eight for men; today it is one in two.
To reduce your pesticide load, for yourself or your children, it is suggested that you familiarize yourself with lists of fruits and vegetables that are the most heavily laden with pesticide, for example, eat watermelon over apples, broccoli over potatoes. In addition, over time, try to develop the commitment to buying one new organic food item, a container of organic salad mix, or a bag of organic baby carrots — start somewhere. But organic or not, please do eat your vegetables and fruits, too many of us never touch the stuff!
But maybe you’re wondering at this juncture, what is it that organic farmers do differently?
Organic farms weed by hand, release helpful bugs, such as lady bugs, to help keep down the spread of bugs that eat their plants; use mulch, and spread natural soil enhancers, among many other practical and time proven methods, that in part, my grandfather used. But are organically grown fruits and vegetables really any better for you (other than the fact they are poison free)?
Dr. Mercola, a well-known advocate for healthy living, reports that, “Aside from pesticide contamination, conventional produce tends to have fewer nutrients than organic produce.” Why? One theory is that the ecosystem below pesticide sprayed plants is actually dead, and so minerals that would be available to an organic plant, are not broken down small enough, without this ecosystem, to be “up-loaded” into a non-organic plant.
So buy what organic vegetables and fruits that you can afford, eat foods that are less pesticide laden — and visit your local farmers markets, buy fresh, if not organic. Many of our local farmers, while they have not worked their way through the certification process for “organic,” still avoid pesticide when at all possible.
Most importantly — eat your vegetables!