March 31, 2008

buy organic

I keep meaning to write about how I look at food in the grocery store and decide what to eat (which may or may not have any relevance to your life - mostly, Em asked me to, and I said I would), but this story is the kind of thing that makes me so uncomfortable buying conventional produce, especially out of season. It's an article about songbirds dying or having severe neurological problems from high concentrations of pesticides used on produce in Latin America. Setting aside my strong suspicion that anything that kills birds is probably bad for my long-term health, it's a serious downer to sit down to dinner and start thinking about poisoned songbirds.

Similarly, I can't buy conventional strawberries anymore because I just think about sea otters having immune problems and being poisoned by toxic algal blooms from all the pesticides and fertilizers dumped on the strawberry fields outside Watonville. So, no strawberries since last spring, except maybe at a catered event or something where I didn't buy them. I can't wait for May, when I get to have them again.

Addendum: The article also specifically mentions organic coffee and bananas as priorities. Having seen coffee and banana plantations firsthand, I agree. A conventional banana plantation is a horrible place - dead land made of eroding grey clay with plants so weak they have to be tied to guy lines to stay up. The organic plantation I visited was like a very managed forest, with leaf litter and little plants and other live things. Shade-grown coffee is especially important because it's a cash crop that allows farmers to maintain forest cover, which is just unbelievably ecologically valuable, especially in the tropical regions where coffee grows.

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