Tag Archives: usda organic

Grown Without Pesticides (or at least sarin gas)

Okay, let’s break down the definition of organic a little, with my commentary based on my reading.

Grown without the use of pesticides.

I seriously did not realize this, but apparently one of the first pesticides used in commercial farming was diluted sarin gas. Someone figured out that bugs didn’t tolerate it very well, and it turns out we had stockpiles of it after World War II and we didn’t know how to get rid of it. (The Science of Skinny, Dee McCaffrey)

Organophosphates.  The OPs were discovered in Germany during World War II research on nerve gas poisons. They are still used that way (e.g. sarin).  They are generally more toxic to vertebrates than the chlorinated hydrocarbons, but they tend to be less persistent in the environment. Some of the more common OPs are chlorpyrifos, diazinon, malathion, and parathion. (University of Kentucky Insecticide Overview)

If you want to read more about the link between nerve gases and pesticides, you can go here: New York Times – Nerve Gases and Pesticides

I’m taking a minute for a deep breath. WHAT THE FUCK?!?!  Talk about generational karma from our own experimentation with biochemical warfare.

Given that the way that insects are targeted is through shutting down their nervous systems, it gives me pause when I think about how it might be affecting young children, whose brains and nervous systems are still developing, especially when aggregated through repeated exposure in the diet.

When people talk about these poisons, I often hear the phrase “But it’s VERY diluted.” Sure, I’ll buy that for a dollar (sometimes literally) but then what about aggregate levels over time? How do I know it’s getting purged properly out of my body?

But what about the conflicting definition on Wikipedia that some pesticides are allowed? Here’s how I look at it:

  1. Farmers have gotta have something to keep the insects at bay, whether it be a manual sticky strip that catches flies (seriously, that exists, I have seen it at organic apple orchards)
  2. What is allowed is a subset of what is allowed with conventional produce and
  3. No synthetic pesticides are allowed (more on that later)

A bonus when you choose organic from a small local farm – most of the time they don’t spray with any pesticides. The management of those pesticides often only makes sense when you have a very large property and lots of crops to manage, and not enough people.

When I found out how bad conventional pesticides were, I thought, “WHY THE HELL WERE MY FRIENDS NOT SHAKING ME VIOLENTLY AND HOPPING AROUND LIKE LUNATICS SCREAMING AT ME TO STOP FEEDING MY KIDS THE STRAWBERRIES I THOUGHT WERE GOOD FOR THEM?” Here’s the simple answer – they had no frikkin’ clue. Who the hell had time to read and synthesize all this information running on sleep that’s interrupted multiple times a night and 6,852 requests a day starting with, “Mommy?”

So here I am. Hopping around like a looney. Hold on, I’ll be right back. Just let me grab my gas mask…

 

 

What Does Organic Really Mean?

According to organic.org: “Simply stated, organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones. “

According to Wikipedia:  “Depending on whose definition is used, organic farming uses fertilizers and pesticides (which include herbicides, insecticides and fungicides) if they are considered natural (such as bone meal from animals or pyrethrin from flowers), but it excludes or strictly limits the use of various methods (including synthetic petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides; plant growth regulators such as hormones; antibiotic use in livestock; genetically modified organisms;[1] human sewage sludge; and nanomaterials.[2]) for reasons including sustainability, openness, independence, health, and safety

I’ll add that the animals slaughtered for organic meats are not fed genetically modified corn and soy. If you subscribe to the adage you are what you eat…sigh.

And then there are all the “flavors” (if you will) of organic (also from organic.org):

100% Organic: Made with 100% organic ingredients

Organic: Made with at least 95% organic ingredients

Made With Organic Ingredients: Made with a minimum of 70% organic ingredients with strict restrictions on the remaining 30% including no GMOs (genetically modified organisms)

Products with less than 70% organic ingredients may list organically produced ingredients on the side panel of the package, but may not make any organic claims on the front of the package.

The next few posts are going to be a breakdown of each of the components mentioned above in the definition, alongside my personal commentary.