"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Dirty Dozen and the Ides of March

It rained through the night and the wind pummeled our brick house and rattled the windows, and this morning there are standing pools of water in the front yard and the dead grass is beaten down. A section of downspout is in the road and cardboard boxes blown away from somewhere else sit in the yard like tombstones. The woods across the muddy road are black and still. My seed order sits neglected on the table under tax returns and library books. Seeds? Spring, oh spring.

Earth Day is April 22nd. I would encourage everyone to support organic farmers and buy local and in-season fruits and vegetables as much as possible. Secondly, recycle, especially plastic. Bottled water is one of the biggest scams of our day, and the single-use leaching plastic water bottles used by the industry are the bane of our landfills.

So recycle and eat organic. Following are the dirty dozen, foods you should always try to buy organic, either because of their thin skins that offer no protection against the poison sprayed on them by conventional farmers, or the hormones and antibiotics administered to encourage fast growth and prevent disease in crowded feedlots and factory chicken farms.

1. Meat and eggs
2. Milk
3. Coffee – most of the beans we buy are grown in countries that don’t regulate the use of pesticides or chemicals. Look for the USDA Organic label to insure you aren’t buying beans grown with potentially harmful chemicals. Or go a step further and look for the Fair Trade label which insures that your purchase supports farmers who are paid fairly and treated well. And look for the shade-grown varieties. Then you know your coffee is being grown under the canopy of the rainforest, leaving these ancient trees intact.
4. Peaches (delicate skins)
5. Apples
6. Sweet Bell Peppers – they are heavily sprayed and have thin skins that don’t offer much of a barrier.
7. Celery- no protective skin, which makes it impossible to wash off the chemicals used on conventional crops.
8. Strawberries – if you buy strawberries out of season, they’re most likely imported from countries that use less stringent regulations for pesticide use.
9. Leafy Greens – frequent contamination with what are considered the most potent pesticides used on food.
10. Grapes – imported grapes run a much greater risk of contamination than those grown
domestically, and grapes have very thin skins.
11. Potatoes – America’s popular spud ranks high for pesticide residue. It also gets the double whammy of fungicides added to the soil by conventional farmers.
12. Tomatoes – the tomato’s easily punctured skin is no match for chemicals that will eventually permeate it.

Pesticide, Herbicide, Fungicide . . . Suicide.

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