A while back I switched to eating almost entirely organic fresh produce, and I have never looked back.

To be honest, my motivation initially had nothing to do with saving the planet – it was all about flavour: in my experience, organic fruit and vegetables almost always taste so much better than their conventionally farmed counterparts.

But then I began to wonder why it was that they tasted better, and started learning about pesticide use, as well as artificial fertilisers and their ultimate effect not only on the vegetables themselves (and the people who eat them) but on the earth in general.

I don’t even see it as a luxury anymore. You may pay slightly more (though that gap is definitely closing), but what you’re getting is far healthier (which makes you stronger) and definitely better for our beautiful world.

Anyway, if you’re still holding back from going the organic route, for whatever reasons, here’s something that may change your mind:  a new website that will tell you what pesticides are likely to be found on the food you eat, in what quantities, and how that might be affecting you.

What’s On My Food? is a searchable database designed to make the public problem of pesticide exposure visible and more understandable.

How does this tool work? We link pesticide food residue data with the toxicology for each chemical, making this information easily searchable for the first time.

You can either search by food type, and see what pesticides are regularly found on or within those foods, or you can browse through the (very) long list of pesticide varieties, and find out where they crop up (so to speak).

A single serving of apples, for instance, generally contains a very scary 14 different kinds of pesticide residues, including known neurotoxins, carcinogens and developmental or reproductive toxicants.

Of course, the information contained in the website is based on US data, so obviously is not directly applicable to our own situation here in South Africa, but we’d be foolish to imagine that most local farmers aren’t using similarly pesticide-intensive methods.

And I believe it’s a rather scary wake-up call for anyone who still believes that pesticides aren’t an issue.

At Pesticide Action Network (PAN) we know one thing: Pesticides are the linchpin of industrialized agriculture.Pesticides are the linchpin of industrialized agriculture.

Their mass introduction into farming 70 years ago, along with petrochemically-derived fertilizers, set U.S. farming down a costly and unsustainable path. Along the way, community-scale farming was nearly destroyed, generations have suffered ill health ranging from cancer to autism and Parkinson’s, biodiversity has taken big hits, and the six mega-corporations who dominate the pesticide industry have gotten very rich and very powerful. (link)

The website was created by PAN as part of their plan to “loosen the pesticide industry’s control over global agriculture by holding accountable governmental bodies that are charged with regulating pesticides”.

colour-carrotHere’s to that!  And here’s to a resurgence of community-scale farming in South Africa and elsewhere.

Going organic in Cape Town

If you’re looking for a place to get started on the organic route, why not sign up for the Slow Food Cape Town Winter CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)?

It works out to around R57 per week for a bag of fresh-picked organic vegetables, and by supporting the project, you will be paving the way for more organic CSA initiatives to come.  Visit www.slowfoodcsa.co.za for more information.

Or, join an organic box scheme or visit a local organic market (we have plenty in Cape Town!)

Once you’ve tasted organic, you’re unlikely to go back!


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