Food Essays Posted on Environmental Health Policy Institute
Molly Rauch, MPH
February 28, 2011
Last week we posted essays to the Environmental
Health Policy Institute addressing the question: “How does our food
production system drive our exposure to toxic chemicals?” It’s a bumper crop
for the Institute: we’ve posted eight essays on food, more than we’ve posted
for any one topic since the launch of the Institute in September 2010.
I urge you to explore the essays from experts across the
country on the entire food production system and the implications of how we eat
today. You will find essays from Steve Gilbert, toxicologist and PSR board
member; Brad Heavner, Senior Policy Advisor for Environment America; Susan
Kegley, organic chemist and pesticide specialist; Joanne Perron, OBGYN and
breast cancer survivor; Kathy Pryor, Program Coordinator for Washington PSR;
Lucia Sayre, Co-Executive Director of San Francisco PSR; Ted Schettler, Science
Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network; and Boyce Thorne
Miller and Niaz Dorry, both of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance.
These essays are already changing how I eat. Yesterday in
the grocery store I was on high alert for “organic” and “local,” and was much
more attuned to the life cycle costs of choosing foods that are bathed in
chemicals from seed to shelf.
Take, for example, Susan
Kegley’s “The Story of Strawberries.” She explains how strawberries are
actually produced in our country:
Instead of rotating crops to clear the soil
of disease, conventional strawberry growers inject highly toxic fumigant
pesticides such as methyl bromide, Telone, metam sodium, and chloropicrin into
the soil at hundreds of pounds per acre. These chemicals are gases (or nearly
so) at ambient temperatures and rapidly escape from the soil and the tarps placed
on top of the soil, drifting into neighborhoods, schoolyards, workplaces, and
parks at concentrations that have not infrequently been high enough to cause
mass evacuations and hospitalizations.
I think I will never look at a gleaming grocery store clamshell
of cosmetically perfect red strawberries again without also thinking of the
fumigants injected as gases into the soil before planting. It’s not a system I
want to support.
How are the essays changing
the way YOU eat?
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