Why, Why Not Do Something?

By | October 10, 2012

It’s Wednesday morning, around 8.45am and I’m on my way to a meeting. Kamloops is treating everybody this morning to a chilly start. The air is so cold it pinches my face. One cheeky degree Celsius…

The sidewalk along the library is adorned with tables full of tomatoes, plums, leeks, apples, eggs and the whole farmer’s market bounty I usually see on Saturdays. It happens on Wednesdays too, I remember now.

Meeting over, I remember Sasha’s request for crunchy apples. I buy a bucketful of green apples, crunchiness included and the promise that no pesticides were used. Same for plums, tomatoes, lettuce, leeks and carrots. Eggs and a chat. About growing and eating real food and how it’s so worth it. I’m charmed by the idea of raising chickens in my backyard. Dream on… For now at least. I tell the guy of my moving into a house with a yard full of fruit and veggies and how I want to grow more next year. No chuckles, he knows what’s out there. Our food getting more toxic by the day and getting the water and air toxic with it too. Say it isn’t so.

It’s the saddest riddle I know: Why do we even entertain the thought of chemicals on, near and in our food? Why use pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers? To increase productivity, to reduce costs and to allow as many people as possible to buy fresh produce, you’ll say. Right? Wrong. People who make it happen without chemicals is proof that it can be done.

I am not a farmer but I’ve talked to enough to know about how challenging it is to grow food without chemicals, yet they do it. It doesn’t result in cheap food, that’s for sure. Not as cheap as chemical-infused food and definitely not tasteless. So you pay slightly more. It’s worth it. For now. Because you see, every time pesticides are sprayed on crops that are I can choose to avoid, I will still get some residue via soil, water and air. So do my children. And yours. Needless to say, those little signs warning of pesticide use on lawns that we see on our walk from school ever now and then only add insult to the injury.

There’s studies showing the effects on children and the results are not pretty to look at. Some pesticides reduce IQ, some may act as endocrine disruptors, many increase the risk of cancer and even more are persistent enough to make us look bad for quite a while from now on. For starters.

And then there’s the GM foods. As long as we don’t request labeling, it won’t happen. Nothing short of a miracle. It starts with not buying a product if it’s tainted or if you suspect it is. The longer we put it off the murkier it gets. France is incensed over a study showing that rats fed GM corn ended up with cancer. How about us? What if it’s flawed or exaggerated (we always doubt the good ones)? … Then we look at other studies. Like the one showing that GM crops (courtesy of Monsanto) require more pesticides than back in 1996 when they were first introduced. The pesticide called Roundup (courtesy of Monsanto) is used for the purpose to kill weeds but it does not live up the the expectations as superweeds are developing and chuckling away. What’s a farmer to do? Use stronger chemicals that will eventually seep into the water and dissipate into the air? Your air and mine. Our children’s. It’s complicated and far from glamorous. But real. Food for thought sounds about right.

Where to start? A tough one. Local farmers who grow real food without chemicals are a good bet. As stated in an older post, eating less but better quality food gives the body the right nutrients. As simple as that.

The choices we make in buying food for our families will shape the offer. As simple as that. We might have to give up off-season produce and cheap food, we may have to steer clear of foods so processed even mold won’t grow on them, and the sacrifice is minimal. Pay more, throw away less or at all and help your children understand why. We have to choose and the fact that we still have a choice is a glorious one. Awareness is a beast but a necessary one. Let’s not kill it with indifference. I know you know that, we all do. So choose wisely and stay healthy.

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