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When It Comes To Pesticide Use, Not All Farmers Are Created Equal

I assumed that farmers at my local market grew their foods pesticide free and certified organic, but I learned that this was far from the truth.

fruits and vegetables on display at a farmers market

Photo: Natalie Maynor (flickr)

Farmer’s market season is in full swing and my family is having a great time experiencing all that our local market has to offer. As I have gone more frequently, I have gotten more comfortable asking the farmers questions about how they raise their crops.

Farmer’s market season is in full swing and my family is having a great time experiencing all that our local market has to offer.

As I have gone more frequently, I have gotten more comfortable asking the farmers questions about how they raise their crops.

My natural assumption was to think that all of the farmers that opted to participate in the farmers markets grew their foods pesticide free and certifiable organic. I quickly learned that this way of thinking was far from the truth.

Organic Certification

Many of the farmers at my local farmers’ market were working to get towards the organic certification.

The farmers explained that this was not an easy process, but that the public is starting to demand food that is not filled with harmful chemicals.

It seemed to be easier for a new farmer to start out organic as opposed to an experienced farmer transitioning his farm from one with chemical treatment to one that was now chemical free.

Do Pesticides Deserve Bad Press?

There are some that say there are some good reasons to use pesticides on crops.

I wanted to research for myself what would be considered a good reason to use a pesticide. Here is what I came up with:

  1. Mosquitoes can transmit diseases, such as West Nile, to humans.
  2. Termites cause serious damage to our structures and are costly to eliminate.
  3. Fire ants cause painful stings and may result in death to livestock.
  4. Vegetable producers may have their produce rejected from certain fresh markets due to unsightly blemishes.
  5. Some pests really can devastate an entire crop if left untreated.

Organic Pesticides? Digging A Little Deeper…

After I discussed some of the reasons why the farmers are using pesticides, I had to walk over to the organic farmers and ask them why they chose to find an alternative.

I was given a wonderful educational lesson on the organic pesticides that are available. The farmers explained that pesticides are safer not only for our bodies, but also the environment.

Neem Oil is one of the pesticides that came up with several of the farmers. Neem oil is used as a natural way to keep insects away without leaving all of the trace elements behind. This is a method that will not be harmful to the environment.

Knowing Better, Doing Better

I was always taught that if you know better, then you should do better. The farmers seem to know ways that they can improve the health of their crops and some chose not to do it.

I realize that it is a business and, in most cases, using organic pesticides will cost more money, but, to potentially save lives – it’s worth it!

It may also take a little effort to research what will work best for their crops.

As parents, we have to take the time to ask questions about the food that we are putting into our families’ bodies.

The farmers at the market could have given me 20 reasons why pesticides are OK to use, but it is not safe for my family members and I can not knowingly give them foods treated with unsafe pesticides.

The Challenge

Ask questions! As parents, we owe it to our kids to provide them the healthiest food selection that we are able to provide.

In this world of making food faster and bigger, sometimes we have to step back and examine what is really best for our kids.

We need to eat in season and limit eating at fast food restaurants that are helping to push the speed of food production. We need to support those that are trying to put properly grown food on our dinner table.

We need to get involved and help get locally grown foods in our school systems. We need to simply ask the right questions.

Additional Resources:

Nicole I. Henderson

Nicole I. Henderson is a wife and mother of three kids. The question that she gets asked everyday is ‘What's for dinner?’ She has realized that what we put into our bodies has an impact on our health and well being. Nicole is coaching parents on how to transition and maintain healthy eating habits for their kids from her own journey as a parent. Nicole is also the owner of Selsi Enterprises, a marketing communications and event planning company based in Atlanta, Georgia.

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  • Geoffrey

    Organic is too strict and yet another bureaucracy. 
    Tumut’s community garden has simple “no artificial pesticide” rules but allows roundup to prepare beds.
    Our farmers market will use and supervise those rules.

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