As a native Californian, I am a self-proclaimed fruit snob. I have always been spoiled by an abundance of fresh berries and peaches year round. But it’s only now that I’m realizing the true costs of eating cheap produce. When I read horror stories about the chemical runoff in agricultural communities leaching into drinking water, I can’t help feeling nauseated. The Environmental Protection Agency proclaims that the use of pesticides has more than doubled since 1990. Pesticides and other chemicals used in food production have been proven to cause life-threatening diseases, certain kinds of cancer, infertility, and birth defects.
The New York Times published a great exposé on the toxics in our water recently, highlighting cases along the Farm Belt where some people have gotten violently ill after farmers poured liquid animal feces onto crops and the runoff seeped into well water. As shocking as it is that people in one of the richest nations on earth are drinking water polluted with animal excrement in this day and age, I realize that I’m not exactly doing anything constructive by sitting around reading horror stories in the media. So here are some ideas about how to stop harmful pesticides from entering our bodies, our homes, our communities, and our food.
Grow your own vegetables, even if you live in a city.
Eat organic! Organic farmers do not use pesticides which could otherwise affect our water systems. Not only are you supporting non-polluters, but you are making a healthier choice to not ingest harmful chemicals into your own body. This is an every day, small scale way to protect your individual health as well as the health of the environment.
And here’s a list of ten more things you can do to reduce water pollution: What can I do?
Pressure the government to enforce water pollution laws. In its last few hours in power, the Bush Administration deregulated 1.5 million tons of toxic waste, causing a major set back in previous environmental protection efforts. Click this link to make your voice heard about water pollution: petition.
I am not idealistic enough to think that banning non-organic farming all together is a good idea. It would be practically impossible to feed America if we relied entirely on organic means of food production. Instead I am proposing that the government encourage a decrease in chemical usage. As it is, 60-80% of chemicals are used just to make our fruits prettier, according to Time Magazine. I would take a bruised pear over polluted water any day. So what if my apples aren’t Snow White waxy? If that means fewer children suffering from health problems caused by toxins in the environment then I’m all for it.
Pressure the government to stop accepting contributions from corporate giants like Monsanto –one of the worst corporate citizens out there—which sacrifice environmental health for high efficiency.