The Dirty Dozen

Have you heard of ‘The Dirty Dozen’?

The Dirty Dozen is a list of 12 fruits and vegetables which have been found to contain the highest levels of pesticides. The aim of these lists, which are updated yearly, is to inform consumers about which fruits and vegetables to prioritise when buying organic. Of course we dream of a future where everything in our shopping carts is organic, but we know that right now, not everyone has access to organic foods. We work very hard here in Ireland to make organic food accessible to as many people as possible. Please take a look at what we can convieniently deliver to your door here.

Dirty Dozen lists are fascinating and highlight the danger of the cocktail of chemicals found in our food. Unfortunately you won’t find a list of the pesticides used on most fresh fruit and veg. However we found it very interesting looking at this label on lemons from a popular online supermarket here in Ireland. Although it is shocking to see, at least it is upfront and evident and we hope that labelling like this will soon become the norm so that consumers can make informed choices. What do you think?

For a ‘Dirty Dozen’ list most relevant to us here in Ireland we’ve been looking at PAN-UK. Pesticide Action Network (PAN) is a network of over 600 participating nongovernmental organisations, institutions and individuals in over 90 countries working to replace the use of hazardous pesticides with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives. Here’s a screenshot from their website on the latest list:

Fruits (especially citrus) and salads seem to be the biggest culprit. But it’s important to remember that these are just the top 12 fruits and vegetables containing pesticide residue, almost all non-organic foods will contain pesticides. Unfortunately washing or peeling your fruit and veg will not be totally effective in removing the pesticides. Many pesticides are systemic, meaning they are absorbed by the plant and can be found throughout, not just on the surface.

There is a growing body of evidence that pesticides can become more harmful when combined and the ‘cocktail effect’ has long-been recognised as an area of concern. Despite this, little has been done to understand or prevent the human health impacts that may occur due to long-term exposure to pesticide cocktails. Find out more about the cocktail effect.

Let us make it easy for you to avoid the cocktail of chemicals found in your supermarket trolly. Order a box from us today, we deliver to every address in Ireland and Northern Ireland and we would love you to join the Green Earth Organics family.

What are your thoughts on organic farming versus the over-use of pesticides on most (but not all of course) non-organic farms? Do you think pesticides are essential to produce enough food for a growing population? Or is there a better way with tried and tested organic systems? We’d love to chat in the comments. We’ll leave you with this quote we love from Mary Jane Butters.

Weed Control & Roundup

Over the last couple of months, I had forgotten how grounding growing food is. On a sunny day or sometimes even better on a wet and windy day walking through the crops, or sampling the fresh harvest, leaves you feelingconnected to the land and alive.  It is easy to forget all of this.  
These days it’s very difficult to know how the food we eat is actually produced. How could we be expected to know?  Life is so busy, and supermarkets give us a shiny happy reality that is often disconnected from the real food production processeshidden behind the scenes. 

The end of the growing season is a mad rush it always is and just when you think you are finished you discover you are not. We have finished planting, but the weeds have marched on relentlessly. This warm humid weather is ideal for cropgrowth but also for weed growth. 

This year our work apart from one or two mishaps has kept pace with the weeds. But our approach to weed control is notone of total dominance, quite frequently once you get the crops to a certain size the weeds are no longer a problem. 

In fact, they can provide a basis for a wide variety of life: flowering weeds that bees come to, the lush green undergrowth, a haven for a myriad of tiny creatures that would not be there otherwise. 

Thus, in turn providing food for the birds, and at times, the necessary predators such as ladybirds and hoverflies that feed on aphids. A natural ecosystem living below the giant shading leaves of the broccoli plants or cabbages develop. Each plant brings something different to the fray and generally none are unwelcome.

Now please do not misunderstand me, if we did not take a pragmatic approach to weed control and utilise all the tools at our disposal there would be no crops, no food, and no farm. We have worked extremely hard to ensure the crops are healthy and weed control is part of the process. No, our approach is just different, less harsh and embraces the idea that yes, we can work with these other plants, and they too have a place on our farm. 

Conversely conventional farming relies on the iron fist of chemicals to control weeds, there is no room for negotiation here, the chemicals are designed to disrupt metabolic pathways in plants, they are generally systemic in nature (get absorbed into the plant and reside there after application, all the way up the food chain onto our plates), the weeds are removed, and the residues of the chemicals remain in and on the food. Just look at the side of any road sprayed with roundup, it is ugly and yellow and dead. 
Using chemicals to fight nature will never work. In the short term it may give a temporary reprieve from a certain disease or pest, but that pest will come back stronger and more resistant next time. It is in a way a self-perpetuating industry.It is not the way and IT IS CERTAINLY NOT OUR WAY.

Organic agriculture is much more than saying no to the use of chemicals, it represents a holistic approach to working with nature, to our land and to our food. It means no chemicals, but it also means no artificial fertiliser, it means tree planting, it means hedge planting, it means allowing nature its place to thrive while also producing food. It means taking care of the soil and it means producing food that tastes fresh and good and crucially is good for us and for the environment.

Here’s to fresh organic food!


PS: It is a strange time, normality is creeping back into our lives, kids are going back to school as are ours, routines if there are ones will be re-established. It has been a strange year, some things are certainly outside of our control, but we can control what we eat. Keeping good healthy fresh food in our fridge, means we are more likely to use it, and this means we will eat healthier and feel better, as we head into autumnaldays this is one sure positive step we can take.