Archive for the ‘Pesticides’ Category

Why Organic and Local is Best

The term “organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. Specific requirements must be met and maintained in order for products to be labeled as “organic.”

Organic crops must be grown in safe soil, have no modifications and must remain separate from conventional products. Farmers are not allowed to use synthetic pesticides, fungicides, herbicides bioengineered genes (GMO’s), petroleum-based fertilizers and sewage sludge-based fertilizers. Organic farmers rely on biological diversity in the field to naturally reduce habitat for pest organisms. Organic farmers also purposefully maintain and replenish the fertility of the soil.

These chemicals I listed in the previous paragraph are widely used in conventional (non-organic) agriculture and residues remain on (and in) the food even after washing them.

Organically raised animals are not given antibiotics, growth hormones or fed animal by-products. Not feeding animal by-products reduces the risk of mad cow disease. Organically raised animals are given more space to move around and access to the outdoors, both of which help to keep animals happy and healthy. They are kept in living conditions that accommodate the natural behavior of the animals.

Non-organically raised animals live in very cruel and crowded conditions. The more crowded the more likely an animal is to get sick. Antibiotics, hormones and animal by-products are fed to these animals.

Organic farming practices reduce pollution (air, water, soil), conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility and use less energy.

Organic foods contain more vitamins, minerals, enzymes and taste than intensively farmed produce. One of the benefits of consuming only organic foods is allergy symptoms will lessen or go away. Most of us have an accumulated build-up of pesticide exposure in our bodies due to numerous years of exposure. This chemical “body burden,” as it is medically known that leads to health issues such as headaches, birth defects, added strain on weakened immune system and serious disease.

GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms)
GMO’s are plants or animals whose DNA has been altered. These products have undergone only short term testing to determine their effects on humans the environment. In most countries, organic products do not contain GMO’s. Genetically modified organisms are one of the most dangerous and radical changes to our food supply. These largely unregulated ingredients found in 60-70% of the foods in the US, are well worth the effort to avoid.

GMO’s threaten our entire food supply. Insects, birds, and wind can carry GMO seeds into neighboring fields and beyond. Pollen from transgenic plants can cross-pollinate with genetically natural crops and wild relatives. All crops, organic and non-organic are vulnerable to contamination from cross-pollination.

Genetic engineering can cause unexpected mutations in an organism, which can create new and higher levels of toxins in foods. GMO’s can also produce unforeseen and unknown allergens in foods. Transgenic foods may mislead consumers with counterfeit freshness. A luscious-looking, bright red genetically engineered tomato could be several weeks old and of little nutritional worth.

37 people died, 1500 were partially paralyzed and 5000 more were temporarily disabled by a syndrome that was finally linked to tryptophan made by genetically-engineered bacteria.

Gene pollution cannot be cleaned up. Once GMO’s, bacteria and viruses are released into the environment it is impossible to contain or recall them. Unlike chemical or nuclear contamination, negative effects are irreversible.

Genetic engineers intend to profit by patenting genetically engineered seeds. This means that when a farmer plants genetically engineered seeds, all the seeds have identical genetic structure. As a result, if a fungus, a virus or a pest develops which can attack this particular crop, there could be widespread crop failure.

This means that the food was grown close to home (your garden, local community, your state, your region or country). Buying locally at Farmers Markets supports and pays the farmer directly. This means the produce will be less expensive than if you were to buy it at a store. Stores have to raise prices to pay for things like marketing and distribution. Locally grown produce is the freshest food you can purchase. Fruits and vegetables are harvested when they are ripe. Non-locally grown produce is picked before ripening and then gassed so they ripen when they arrive at the store. This means the taste or nutritional value will not be as great. The average distance for non-locally grown food is over 1500 miles. This uses a lot of fossil fuels and emits carbon dioxide into the air. Non-local produce is highly processed in factories using preservatives, irradiation, and other means to keep it stable for transport and sale.

Small local farmers often use organic methods, but sometimes cannot afford to become certified organic. Visit a farmers market and talk with the farmers. Find out how they produce the fruits and veggies they sell. You can even ask for a farm tour.

– Shop at Farmers Markets.
– Join a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm, in which individuals and families join up to purchase “shares” of produce in bulk, directly from a local farm. Local and organic.
– Buy in season. Fruits and veggies are cheapest and freshest when in season.

In the long run, you’ll save money on an organic diet because you’ll have less visits to the doctor and you’ll have less chances of developing a disease.

Organic foods are not subsidized by the government. Processed foods are heavily subsidized so they can be manufactured and sold at well below cost to grow and process the raw materials involved. Chemicals are a lot cheaper than human labor costs.

The price of conventional food does not reflect the cost of environmental cleanups that we pay for through our tax dollars.

The benefits and value of organic agriculture off-set the additional cost.

Since organic farmers do not receive federal subsidies like conventional farmers, the price of organic food reflects the true cost of growing.

Organic is not just for food, but for everything grown. Any pesticide use contaminates our soils and water sources. Look into organic materials as well, such as cotton, bamboo and other products.

If you choose to consume meat, please watch the videos below to understand why organically grown livestock is best. Be warned, the second video is very graphic and sad to watch.




Make your own garden pesticides

I just moved to Texas from California and the only Whole Foods Market we have in the city is about a twenty minute drive. I used to live about five minutes away from one back in Cali, so it was easy to make several trips throughout the week. I don’t usually like to buy produce to last more than a couple days, especially when it’s not local because it’s already lost a good amount of nutritional value. Non local produce is usually picked very green so it can make it through it’s long journey of over 1,500 miles and look ripe on the supermarket shelves. Since nutrients are created when the food ripens, when fruits and veggies are harvested early, the nutrients aren’t allowed to form and are missing from the food we buy. Local produce travels fewer miles, so farmers allow it to ripen in the ground or on the vine longer. You get more nutrients with local produce and it’s fresher and tastes better.

I’ve heard that some farmers allow people to visit and pick fruits and veggies from the ground. It not only sounds like a fun experience, but I hear the prices are better than buying from the market. So I did some online research for such farms and it turns out that most of the organic farms around here have partnered up with a company called Greenling. They have a website:

Greenling does weekly home deliveries of fresh, organic or local and sustainably produced produce and more. Delivery is free with a minimum of a $25 order. No contracts, no obligation. You can cancel anytime. They’ll deliver freshly picked produce of the week. You can sign up for a “Local Box,” which I like to call the surprise box because they put in what’s fresh/in season and its different every week. It’s a fun surprise and the price isn’t bad. It’s starts to get a little pricey when you choose to have control of what you want in your box.

I just signed up for this last week and have already received my first box of goodies. I like it, I got a lot of good stuff and we had to eat it that day because fresher produce goes bad a lot quicker since it doesn’t go through any type of processing to try to preserve the freshness or give the appearance of being fresh.

So now that I have a delivery from Greenling once a week, this means I can save myself an extra trip to Whole Foods and just go once or twice a week.

Starting my own garden will also help. This spring I decided to start an herb, chili and veggie garden. Gardening is new to me, the only thing I can recall ever planting was pinto beans when I was very young. I’m really excited. I found a place that sells organic plants and I picked up a couple of JalapeƱo, Serano and Banana Chili plants. I was pressed for time the day I went, so I didn’t get a chance to look at the rest of the plants, but plan to go back this weekend and see what else I can bring home to add to the garden. I’m hoping they have some of my favorite herbs, like Cilantro, Basil, Dill, Parsley and Peppermint. I also hope they have green peppers, tomatoes and more goodies.

I noticed that the chili plants I brought home already have some aphids under the leaves. Major bummer. I did some googling to see if I can find a non-toxic way to get rid of them and yep, there are some great and natural ways to make chemical free insecticides. Here’s a list:

With a simple recipe using Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, you can create a quick and easy harmless mixture to repel your summer bug woes.

Buy the Peppermint fragranced soap. This brand of soap is one of the the few pure castile soaps on the market and its uses are endless. the ingredients are all natural, detergent free and are perfectly safe for the environment (unlike most soaps).

This soap is ultra concentrated and can be found at most health food stores.

Dilute 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of the soap in a liter of room-temperature water and pour this mixture into a spray bottle. The ratio can be slightly stronger if desired.

Lightly spray this mixture onto your plants, making sure to mist the bottom of the leaves in particular to rid the plant of any aphids. The ingredients in Dr. Bronner’s soap act as a natural bug repellent and the peppermint fragrance is both pleasant and non-intrusive. Also, don’t worry about being precise while spraying the mixture. It can also be used as a household cleaner, so making a mess isn’t an issue.

Mix one part soft or liquid soap with 100 parts water. Put into a plant sprayer and use liberally. This is the key ingredient in the gardener’s fight against aphids and other insect pests. The spray action will dislodge insects while the soap smothers them preventing them from breathing or eating. The soapy residue left on plants will further discourage other pests from moving into the plant. Even slugs and snails will avoid eating soap vegetation.

If the garden is suffering from severe infestation, you can up the ante and really put off those leaf destroyers with a garlic or chili spray.

Simply steep a few crushed garlic cloves and/or chillies (fresh/dried/powdered) in your basic soap spray. Filter out any lumps before filling a plant spray (to prevent the nozzle getting blocked). The aroma of garlic and the heat of the chili are distasteful to most insect pests so a regular mist with this smelly spray will prevent re infestation in the long term.

Chili heat could burn foliage if applied too liberally, so keep an eye on plant reactions and do not use unless absolutely necessary. Garlic spray used weekly during the growing period of fruit trees will keep down aphids and other insect infestations.

These sprays can also be used in the home to deter ants from entering. Simply spray regularly where ants are coming over the threshold.