"Anyone that doesn't agree with leggings as pants can physically fight me.
And I'm going to win because I have a full range of motion due to the fact that I am wearing leggings as pants."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Organic Gardeners Unite

Remember the excitement you felt when you heard that the first family was going to put in an organic garden?


To me it felt like, Yes, finally somebody in charge has the same values that I do. And that felt amazing. Honestly, it gave me so much hope for my children's, grandchildren's and great-grandchildren's future.

And it also encouraged me in growing my own organic garden. All the while, fantasizing about freshly picked and grilled beans.


But, get this. The Mid America CropLife Association (MACA for short, a group that represents the makers of chemical pesticides) is upset with the idea that the garden will be organic.

In fact, what they said was, "the thought of it being organic made [us] shudder."

Funny that. The thought of putting poison on the earth and into our bodies makes me shudder.

MACA is petitioning the first lady to reconsider using organic methods, and it's up to us to petition just as loudly to encourage her to stick to her guns. You can see a copy of their letter to Michelle Obama here.

In case you think my desire for an organic garden is just touchy-feely, hippy-dippy stuff (no offense, I'm very touchy-feely and totally hippy-dippy myself), I would like to supply you with the following facts...

Dangers of Pesticide Use
-The occupation of farming has been linked to cancers of the central nervous system, lungs, lymph nodes and blood (Horne and McDermott, p 187).
-Children's exposure to pesticides in their food is higher than that of adults because "pound for pound of body weight, children drink more water, eat more food, and breathe more air than adults" (Landrigan and Garg, p 450).


-A study by Curl, Fenske and Elgethun studied the level of pesticides in the bodies of preschool aged children. They determined that children who ate diets with conventionally grown food had six times more pesticides in their bodies than those who consumed organic diets (377).
-The most disturbing fact about the above study is that they found that those children eating conventional diets had exposure levels higher than that allowed by the EPA, while those eating organic diets were within safe levels (377).


-Children lack the necessary enzymes that allow them to properly metabolize (break down) organophosphate pesticides so they are at an even greater risk for poisoning (Landrigan and Garg, p 450).


-Organophosphate pesticides, which make up about 70% of the pesticides used in the US are "chemically similar to the chemical warfare agents originally produced during World War II, and they work by interfering with the nervous system of insects, as well as humans, other mammals, birds, and fish."
-"Symptoms of exposure include nausea, headaches, twitching, trembling, excessive salivation and tearing, inability to breathe because of paralysis of the diaphragm, convulsions, and at higher doses, death." ("What is an Organophosphate (OP) Pesticide?")

And one final note. According to Horne and McDermott, "we are losing about one third of our crops to pests in the United States, virtually the same percentage as before pesticides began to be used heavily" (181). Farmers pay more money than ever for chemicals, but are in the exact same spot in terms of crop loss. There is only one group of people who are benefiting from the use of these chemicals. I'll give you one hint, it's not the farmers and it's not the consumers.

If all of this infuriates you as much as it does me, then please do one (or all) of the following.
-Write to the Obamas and let them know your feelings. Really. You can do this. It only takes a minute or two. (Feel free to copy in anything from this post.) They need to hear from you. And it will feel so good when you hit submit.
-Sign this petition to the board members of MACA, letting them know that many of us care about the future of organic gardening. Who knows, maybe it'll convince them to go into another business. One that doesn't poison people.
-Forward a link to this post (or of the petition to MACA) to all of your friends and family. I rarely send out mass emails, but I think this one is important. Let them know that chemical fertilizers are poison.
-Buy organic produce the next time you go shopping and support those farmers who are trying to be part of the solution. Voting with your dollars always counts for more.
-Go to Local Harvest and sign up for an organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or just find out what local farms are in your area.
-If you're really hot and bothered over all of this, join the Organic Consumers Association to keep up to date on all things organic.
-Start a vermicomposting system to make sure all of your food waste gets turned into compost for your soil.
-Right now is the perfect time of year to start your own organic garden, even if it only involves growing a few seeds in the windowsill. Start where ever you can. Because it is so worth it.

The site Peaceful Valley has some wonderful, organic supplies for growing your own.

Works Cited

-Curl, Cynthia, Richard Fenske and Kai Elgethun. "Organophosphorus Pesticide Exposure of Urban and Suburban Preschool Children with Organic and Conventional Diets." Environmental Health Perspectives 111.3 (2003): 377-383.

-Horne, James E., and Maura McDermott. The Next Green Revolution: Essential Steps to a Healthy, Sustainable Agriculture. New York: Haworth Press, 2001. ("Writing in the first person, Horne describes growing up in a sharecropper family in Oklahoma, running his own ranch, and consulting with farmers as an agricultural economist. He shares what he learned as the Kerr Center experimented with new "sustainable" approaches to old problems on the Center's ranch/farm, and the experiences he has had working with the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. He has a broad perspective on what is happening in sustainable agriculture both on the farm and at the research station.")

-Landrigan, Philip J., and Anjali Garg. "Chronic Effects of Toxic Environmental Exposures on Children's Health." Clicial Toxicology 40.4 (2002): 449-456.


Sandy said...

When my daughter was little I made my own baby food, used organic fruits and veggies and my blender, poured stuff in ice cube trays and popped in the freezer. That was long ago, I fear it's harder now as more tends to be in our foods...then again finding natural and organic things is easier now then it was back in the dark ages for me.

Doing a little blog walking this am, and see we have crafting in common so thought I'd pop in for a visit and invite you for one as well. Welcome mats always out


Melanie said...

Holy shit, I just emailed the President and I'm not even an American citizen. But as you said, this certainly made me feel pretty good when it was accomplished.

Christine said...

Oh wow, can you imagine shuttering at the idea of organic gardening?! Thanks for bringing this to my attention, I've signed the petition and will be keeping alert on this from now on.

FinnyKnits said...

You've gotten me all revved up again, Wendy.

Of course, I had to shoot off a note to the First Lady and sign the petition, but man, does that letter ever make me F'N MAD.

I hope they're all left to eat these chemically soaked foods when the rest of us have moved on to local and organic only.

I'm more grateful every day for my backyard garden and CSA. No more corporate food, man.

Homemade Mamas said...

Great post! You've inspired us to write our own letter! Thanks for caring as much as we do! :)

Sarah Bonn said...

I always thought it odd that "conventionally grown" meant grown with chemicals. My family finds itself in the unfortunate position of being on a tight budget faced with the choice of either buying smaller amounts of organic food or having enough "conventional" food. There are certain items which I do buy organic, but at 150% - 200% the cost of "conventional" it's tough. It would be nice to see "conventional" = natural. When the public stops putting "organic" on a pedestal and begins to accept that as the norm, hopefully the cost will reflect that.
Thank you for this information.

Wendy said...

Sandy, my sister did the exact same thing with her little boy. It was so much easier to do than we'd expected. And, wow, did it taste so much better than the jarred baby food crap.

Sarah, you should look into a CSA. If you eat a lot of vegetables, it is actually pretty cost effective. Some of them even deliver, depending on where you live.

The rest of you, glad I got you all riled up, even if you aren't all American. ;)

Sarah Bonn said...

I just read a post by a blogger who does thrifty things like couponing and she listed out the cost of a particular recipe. It used apples, which she bought for $.49/lb. The produce tag was still on in the photo and it appears to be the same kind as in my metro location. However, apples cost $1.89/lb in my area. Organic apples cost $2.65/lb (last I looked which was a while back). So I just wondered what other people are paying for produce. I don't know if this is the right place to ask the question but my blog readers are mostly lurkers!
(I followed the link for the CSA list, didn't expect the closest one to be 135 miles away! Thanks for the suggestion though!)

sweetersappe said...

Great post. The more folks that get riled up, the better.

Acorn Dandelion and Rose said...

Thank you so much for that post! I've just written the White House and I applaud your efforts to pass this information on. I can't believe THE NERVE of the ^%$%^#$ chemical companies!!!!! Shocking! I really like your blog, the photos are lovely. Have you ever done any posts on chicken tractors? I am planning on building one for my city backyard and may even try to put a green roof on it if that's possible. Any suggestions?

Wendy said...

Sarah, I have never seen apples for 49 cents a pound. And I would say that between 2 and 3 bucks a pound is what organic apples are here, too. The best prices I've found are at farmer's markets when the foods are in season (though if your closest CSA is 135 miles, your farmer's markets may be a bust, too). The worst prices are at Whole Foods.

Acorn Dandelion and Rose, we don't have chickens (yet), and I'm not sure whether I'd be more excited about fresh eggs or a chicken tractor! I don't have any great sources saved, but a living roof would be a great idea! I'd suggest Mother Earth News as a resource. Good luck, I'll be interested to see what you come up with.

Anna said...

Awesome post, thank you! We're belatedly getting our garden going for the season and this just makes me happier that we started.

Sarah Bonn said...

OK, not that I plan on keeping chickens, but I'm going to look up a chicken tractor right this minute.

Kate said...

THANK YOU so much for posting this. I could NOT believe what I was reading. We have a Mothers Acting Up group in my town that I'll be forwarding your blog link to and asking everyone to take action on this one!

Our growing season is so short here (sigh) but our freezers get packed like crazy (although they look mighty weak about now, and I am SO. Sick. Of. Root. Veggies) because we try and do everything ourselves and through our local farmers (we're blessed, considering the short season, to have some really fabulous family farms nearby).

Thanks again Wendy...It's only when people use their voices that change happens (as we saw this November:))

suna said...

thanks for all that

Renee Unplugged - said...

Hey Wendy...
It's been pretty busy around here and I didn't get to comment before now, but I did write my letter to the White House and started a ruccus over on Facebook...
A lot of folks are just as stunned and outraged as we are!
Thanks for the heads-up!

the little travelers said...

this reminds of when that guy on 20/20 did a piece on how organic gardening was worse for people health wise because of the increase in chances for things like salmonella- but did not address any of the chemicals in the pesticides. so retarded. what people will do to make a buck...

great post wendy! thanks.

April E. Conner said...

Thank you for your words & your wisdom.
in peace...