Posts Tagged ‘conventionally grown peaches’

Sometimes eating locally does not benefit the health of our bodies or of the planet.  Take one of the southeast’s most famous crops, for example: peaches.  The official state fruit of Georgia, and state tree of Alabama, peaches are strongly associated with Dixie and with the triumphant guitar riffs of a great band formed in 1969 in Macon, Georgia.  The sweet juice of a Georgia peach dripping down the chin becomes a vivid childhood memory of summer, even for a Vermonter.  However, with all due respect to the Allman Brothers, my advice is: don’t eat a peach.  Along with those happy images in their aura, peaches are also strongly associated with chemicals such as organophosphorous, a neurotoxin, and dichloropropene, a reproductive and developmental toxin—to name just two of the forty-nine chemicals typically sprayed on peaches to ward off everything from nematodes and fungi to large mammals.  Needless to say, peaches regularly top the “Dirty Dozen” list of foods most contaminated with pesticide residues.

Legions of living things are attracted to the sweet, juicy, bright orange peachiness of the peach, as we humans are, but it is possible to grow them without heavy applications of synthetic nastiness.  Unfortunately for me here in Auburn, however, typing “organic peaches Alabama” or “Georgia” into Google yields no sources.  Should I make an exception, in order to support local agriculture?  Well, not this time.  Because the news gets worse.

Are these peaches glowing?

The Pesticide Action Network, which promotes pesticide reduction and elimination, as well as consumer awareness, and is based in California, came up with a list of what they call “Bad Actor Pesticides.”  Here’s how they define the baddest of the bad guys:

* Known or probable carcinogens, as designated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), U.S. EPA, U.S. National Toxicology Program, and the state of California’s Proposition 65 list.
* Reproductive or developmental toxicants, as designated by the state of California’s Proposition 65 list.
* Neurotoxic cholinesterase inhibitors, as designated by California Department of Pesticide Regulation, the Materials Safety Data Sheet for the particular chemical, or PAN staff evaluation of chemical structure (for organophosphorus compounds).
* Known groundwater contaminants, as designated by the state of California (for actively registered pesticides) or from historic groundwater monitoring records (for banned pesticides).
* Pesticides with high acute toxicity, as designated by the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. EPA, or the U.S. National Toxicology Program.

Seventeen out of the forty-nine pesticides typically used on peaches are PAN Bad Actors.  (This information is from pesticideinfo.org.)

What’s a mommy with a fruit-loving four-year-old to do?  When shopping for food, I think in terms of trade-offs among the qualifications important to me: if we’re having a dinner made with local shrimp, organic green beans and basil, I won’t feel too bad about giving Jack those organic California grapes for dessert.  (For the tradeoffs involved in grape-buying, read my next post.)


Read Full Post »

We went to the first farmers’ market of the year at “Ag Heritage Park” today in the drizzle.  I and everyone else there seemed to be wondering the same thing: why aren’t there more farmers around here?  The line for the most varied vegetable selection was almost thirty minutes long. The berry farm stand ran out of strawberries at ten past the opening hour.  Peaches were gone by the time Jack and I made it out of the veggie line.   Hundreds of people arrived in the first hour and stood around in the rain, beaming at each other as they hefted canvas bags full of local lettuce, peaches, cucumbers, honey, cheese, and eggs—if they were lucky enough to get some before it all sold out. There’s so much pent up demand for fresh local food, and too few CSAs and small farmers to meet it with their supply. This may be because the market is young in relation to the agricultural history of the state, in which commodity crops like cotton and lumber dominated.

The exciting thing, though, is that small farms are popping up or remaking themselves to meet this demand.  And if you ask around enough you find out about other producers who have been in the area, quietly serving up their grass fed beef or organic greens for decades. (For example, the Ritches of Goose Pond Farm, one of whose scrumptious chickens we enjoyed with friends the other night.)
fm haul
Jack and I took home a small haul: red leaf and butter lettuces, an armful of baby summer squashes, veggie goat cheese from Bulger Creek Farm in Notasulga, and some honey.

Eggs were available, but we already had a dozen of the local “Frank’s Famous Eggs” in the fridge.  (Their yolks are molten orange! And if you happen to eat a supermarket egg when you’re used to the density and flavor of these, you’ll say: what’s this tasteless rubber?)
frank'sThe lettuces made a crisp bed for some eight-minute eggs.


I roasted the summer squash in a skillet with olive oil, salt and pepper, and a sprig of backyard rosemary.  Jack insisted he didn’t like “fwash” but he ate every sweet and salty morsel.


Read Full Post »