Once you’ve been sprayed with Malathion, you think twice about your daily dose of pesticides!

I stayed home this weekend and that was a treat…I didn’t even run errands. The only outing was my Saturday morning short drive to pick up the weekly produce box. I thought I’d share a few pictures of the contents of the box while I also tell you more about why I’m personally very interested in purchasing organic fruit and vegetables. I don’t just think of it as a luxury, I consider it very important.

Before the story…the visual aids.

This week’s box included oranges, asparagus, broccoli, chard, chives, collard greens, lambs quarter, lettuce, peas, spinach, and tarragon. The fruit and vegetables are locally grown, which means investing in the community and supporting California farmers. I’m very pleased to participate in that investment, but I’m also very happy to be assured fresh organic produce.

So why is organic important to me? Frankly, I think everyone would be wise to consider the health risks of lifelong exposure to pesticides, but there is so much written on the subject that as much as I love jumping on soap boxes (just ask my friends, they’ll tell you), I really don’t want to use this forum for that. But I will say that when it comes to advocating for safe food sources, I have several places where I feel comfortable wearing my activist hat.

My concerns started in the early 1980’s. California leads all of the others states in farm income, growing over 200 different crops, some grown nowhere else in the nation. So in the early ’80s when farm crops were threatened by the Mediterranean Fruit Fly, the powers-that-be began pelting us with overhead ┬áMalathion spraying. ┬áDetermined as an insecticide of “relatively low human toxicity,” weekly aerial spraying of suburban communities, including ours, took place over a period of several months. Wasn’t that special?

Believe me, there was outrage. And fear, so the government’s response was to publicize the Director of the California Conservation Corps publicly swallowing the stuff and mobilizing mental health professionals with public appeals to stay calm. Our only instruction was to stay indoors. I think I remember covering the cars. I also think the fact that it took more than a decade for the bee population to come back was unsettling. With two children under ten years of age I was tremendously bothered by the belief that it was impossible to guarantee we would have absolutely no long-term effects.

In my mind, we’ll never really know. Maybe there was no effect and maybe it was indeed absolutely necessary. But I also think it’s a good idea not to ingest any more pesticide residue than is absolutely necessary. So I buy organic when I can. I don’t consider it a luxury–I’ll eat less if necessary!

These beautiful organic eggs are huge and fresh. They are "add-on" to the weekly box.

Even the rice is California grown.

We don’t all have access to the same amount of locally grown produce, but I do encourage making choices from as close to home as possible. Everyone makes decisions for themselves based on availability and preferences, but for those of us who live quite literally in what has been termed “the bread basket for the world,” I don’t really understand the need to eat imported and out of season fruit and vegetables.

To illustrate my point I’ll share two pictures and then explain!

Season’s Best? Which season would that be? This corn, shipped clear across the country from Florida, was in my local grocery store last week. Before I looked at any labeling I was genuinely confused to see it. We will see wonderfully sweet and very fresh corn in about two months. Can’t we wait? OK…I’m not going to harangue, but I just don’t see the need to transport corn clear across the country.

I am actually concerned that we are quite literally “corn-fed” people, but I would recommend the easily accessed documentary titled “King Corn” and perhaps reading Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” to better understand my concern. These two resources are good jumping off points for learning more about what I believe is a serious problem with the nutritional value of our food supply.

OK. Now that I have that off my chest it’s time for me to shift gears and breathe lighter…so I’m going to go outside and enjoy the last few minutes of Sunday daylight. I’m doing my own part to counteract pesticides in my own garden. Just look at what came home with me yesterday?

I bought a container of 1,500 Ladybugs…I’m releasing them in the rose garden tonight. The funny thing is that I don’t think I have a lot of aphids right now, which may mean they vacate my premises to find an insect meal elsewhere. But that’s fine. They can go wherever they are most needed.

And Monday morning I’ll be taking Pinky with me to see Sophia and Karina. We’ll hit the freeway long before sun-up and I’ll have a good day!

Even Pinky gets good organic baby carrots. I try to be consistent!

Feel free to share your thoughts…I’m not an expert on these topics or concerns, but I’m doing what I can to make educated and informed decisions for my family. And if you have other suggested readings, I’d love to add to my list. I’ve already confessed I rarely need an excuse to buy a new book or two!

Good Monday to you all! Debra