How to Lower Your Pesticide Load

Choose organic strawberries since they are among the mostly highly sprayed crops. IPM is a good second choice.
Choose organic strawberries since they are among the mostly highly sprayed when conventionally grown. IPM is a good second choice.

In light of all the negative press that pesticides in our foods have received lately, it’s time to take evasive action if you haven’t done so already.

According to a May 5 New York Times Op-Ed piece by Nicholas Kristof, The President’s Cancer Panel has recommended we “Give preference to food grown without pesticides, chemical fertilizers and growth hormones.” A May 15 article in the Wall Street Journal discussed a recent study showing a possible link between pesticide exposure and ADHD. “Children with higher levels had increased chances of having ADHD, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, a common problem that causes students to have trouble in school.”

What can consumers do to avoid pesticides?

1. Buy organic whenever possible and where is matters most. We all have finite resources, so try to choose organic varities of the 12 most highly sprayed fruits and vegetables. Download the pocket-sized Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides listing the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 to help guide your organic vs. conventional purchases.

2. The next best choice after organic is IPM-grown. Integrated Pest Management practices differ by farmer, but stress the avoidance of routine spraying and emphasize preventing crop damage while creating  “the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment” . Farmers’ markets around the county have opened, or will open soon, and this is a great chance to get to know your farmers face-to-face. If you find they haven’t sprayed or only sprayed with organic products, this is an excellent choice.

3. Rinse and peel any conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables to reduce, but not eliminate pesticide residue.

4. Grown your own! If you’re just starting out, lettuces grow quickly and strawberries are a low-maintenance perennial that self seed. Visit a farmers’ market or Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens to buy your organic strawberry plants.

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