Reclaiming the future of food and farming


Kristin Schafer's picture

Pediatricians enter the organic debate. Media miss the boat.

Yesterday the American Academy of Pediatrics weighed in on organic food. They found that "an organic diet reduces children's exposure to pesticides," and highlighted studies linking pesticides with many of the childhood health harms included in PAN's recent report, A Generation in Jeopardy.

Unfortunately, media coverage of APA's report has been all over the map. And given the power of headlines to shape public debate in ways that directly impact policymakers' appetite for taking on tough issues, this failure on the part of news desks and editors to report the substance of the science accurately is a serious problem.

Kristin Schafer
Heather Pilatic's picture

Organic food study "missed the point"

This week’s controversy surrounding a Stanford study claiming to have established that organic food is no more nutritious than non-organic illustrates the pitfalls of talking about food issues in a consumer frame. And people all around the country are saying so.

Food issues are never solely or even mainly about individual consumer choice — our food and farming system connects us with each other and is by most measures our most impactful daily interaction with the environment.

Heather Pilatic
Kristin Schafer's picture

Power on our plates

When my daughter was in kindergarten, she would inspect her friends' strawberries at lunchtime. “No no, you don’t want to eat that,” she would solemnly inform them. “It’s not organic. It might have yucky chemicals on it.”

Yucky chemicals indeed. Studies continue to pile up showing how pesticides on food can be harmful, especially to children's health. As we head into the home stretch of the holiday feast season, I've been thinking hard about the powerful ripple effects of our food choices. Turns out, what we eat matters. A lot.

Kristin Schafer
Karl Tupper's picture

Pesticide residues: From fork to farm

Apples and celery this week. Cilantro a couple back. Stories about pesticide residues on food are making the rounds again. After my umpteenth media call, a blog seemed in order.

As I told the LA Times, here's my basic response: "It’s the farmers, farmworkers and residents of rural communities who are really most at risk" from pesticides, not consumers. While these folks are exposed to pesticides from food like the rest of us, they also must contend with pesticide fumes drifting out of fields, exposure from working directly with pesticides, and pesticide-coated dust and dirt tracked into their homes from the fields. Tom Philpott, newly migrated to MotherJones, nails this topic.

Karl Tupper
Karl Tupper's picture

Cilantro, chlorpyrifos & flying blind

In my last post, I asked "Where's the data?" — specifically the latest installment from the USDA's Pesticide Data Program, which tests thousands of food samples for pesticide residues every year. The PDP data is the basis for our website that allows you to see which pesticides are found on food (and in water), how often, in what amounts, and with what associated health risks.

After months of delay, the data is finally out. In a nod to the produce industry (who had complained about "misuse" of the data by "activist groups") the USDA included a two page "What Consumers Should Know" factsheet with the report, but otherwise the presentation of results and data is the same as it's always been. And then there's cilantro.

Karl Tupper
Karl Tupper's picture

Where's the data?

As we reported in last month's update of What's On My Food?, USDA's 2010 pesticide residue data has been mysteriously delayed for five months.

As we suspected, it seems the produce industry isn't happy with the way USDA has been presenting its annual public summary of the data, and has been pressuring the Department to make changes. In a letter sent to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack last month, they charge that the annual report "has, in previous years, been mischaracterized repeatedly by environmental activists and news media to the extent that it has discouraged people from consuming fresh produce." Apparently "mischaracterized" is industry-speak for "brought to the attention of the public".

Karl Tupper
Pesticide Action Network's picture

What'sOnMyFood? in a widget, with new data & bees!

Ready to geek out? We’ve updated our pesticide residue database, What’s On My Food?, with the latest chemical and toxicology data – including a new dimension that tracks bee-toxic pesticides. And we made a widget!

What's a widget? Fair question. It’s a snippet of computer code that allows you (or your favorite blogger) to host the What’s On My Food? search function on your website or blog. You can download it here.

Pesticide Actio...