Is Organic Really Safe Food?

That depends. Not everything organic is non-toxic. Look at how many poisonous plants there are that can kill you or your animals if ingested. What about the plants that cause skin irritation, and those that eat insects? We have plants that make you ill, kill you, and those that make you itch like mad – all with different levels of toxicity, and even toxicity levels that vary from one person or animal species to another.

Pesticides approved for use on certified organic crops can be stuff you really want to avoid consuming. Because they are natural extractions, instead of synthetic chemical compounds, they are considered organic pesticides. You can count on any commercially focused organic grower to use whatever is necessary to bring the harvest to market. It’s not a hobby for them, it’s a living. They can’t take chances and meet the mortgage payments, cover the cost of living and hopefully are able to take a wee vacation now and then for some R & R.

Isn’t that why any of us works? You must have an income if you’re against living among the homeless.

So, those lovely red strawberries at the supermarket, Whole Foods, etc. bearing that organic symbol really aren’t much better for you to eat than the ones without it. It’s easy for anyone who isn’t tuned into the farming community to envision a team of wholesome folks dressed in farm casual out there in a field waving bad bugs away with paper fans and misting their valuable berry-bearing rows of plants with baking soda to produce truckloads of beautiful fruits. Wake up already. This is serious business, not your backyard garden. If a home gardener’s got growing issues that affect the harvest, they simply trot down to the fruit market and buy the missing produce. For an organic farmer, it means immense losses, and no money for buying much of anything anytime soon. A crop failure could cost them everything.

Strawberries are a highly perishable crop, and not just after the fruit is harvested. Cold, cloudy weather and too much rain can destroy them before picking time. Birds are also a problem, as are root diseases. All commercially grown strawberries, including organically grown, reside in soil that is fumigated in the rooting cutting stage. Not that this hard-to-control class of pesticides can affect you, but the nursery workers and farm laborers are all heavily exposed to it. All forms of fumigants are known to cause cancer, and other health issues. So you’re safe, but the people who made those berries on the shelf possible aren’t. It would be better for your fellow man to grow your own.

Many fruit and vegetable crop harvests can be ruined by insects, and its very common for organic growers to eradicate them with one pyrethrin-based pesticide or another. There are both synthetic and organic forms of these products on the market, and they are approved for use on organic certified crops. The EPA deems them to be ‘lowly toxic to humans and vertebrate animals’ – notice there’s no mention of fish, birds, or bees. It’s a broad spectrum insecticide that has been used in homes and gardens for many years to kill everything from head lice to flies to tent worms, and more. It is highly toxic to fish and house cats, and evidence exists that connects it to reduced human fertility, and cancerous tumor formations. One might wonder why it’s suggested on the label of agricultural products containing this active ingredient that wearing a haz-mat suit is best when mixing or applying it. Doesn’t sound ‘organic’ anymore. MSDS sheets also warn against inhaling, ingesting, allowing to soak into the skin, or getting in the eyes. Accidental exposure? Contact a poison center immediately…

And they’re spraying this on organic crops that will eventually wind up on the discerning consumer’s plate. It can be applied right up to harvest too. Here’s some really worrisome facts about this organic approved insecticide:

Make sure to note that it kills just about all insects, including beneficial ones that help keep your garden free of plant damaging bugs. It lingers indoors for up to 2 months. And the EPA notes “suggestive evidence of carcinogenicity but not sufficient to assess human carcinogenic potential.”

I suppose its only a coincidence that natural pyrethrins are made from a daisy – the symbol of innocence, purity, and freshness.

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Tammy Clayton

Contributing Writer at Garden Culture Magazine

Tammy has been immersed in the world of plants and growing since her first job as an assistant weeder at the tender age of 8. Heavily influenced by a former life as a landscape designer and nursery owner, she swears good looking plants follow her home.