alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.

HIGHTOWER: Toxic Produce

A frozen dinner came with the following "serving suggestion": Defrost.Good idea! But what's a mother to do with fruits and vegetables contaminated with pesticide residues? Oh, you say, that's not possible because our government sets standards to protect our children from these poisons.Before you swallow that, check out the March issue of Consumer Reports. It analyzes the pesticides on and in 27,000 samples of produce taken right out of supermarket bins, and it finds that a startling number of them contain unacceptable levels of some highly-toxic chemicals, with children being especially endangered. Seven items stood out as being hundreds of times more toxic than the rest: apples, grapes, green beans, peaches, pears, spinach and winter squash. Yes, these are foods we all consider to be good for you ... but not when they are laced with a medicine cabinet of pesticides.Methyl Parathion is the most prevalent poison that Consumer Reports found. It's an organophosphate insecticide that attacks the neurological system of insects -- but also of humans. Two out of five peaches tested contained unacceptable levels of this killer.Then there's Dieldrin, a cancer-causing pesticide removed from the market 25 years ago. But these toxics don't just disappear from the soil. Even today, three-fourths of the winter squash tested by Consumer Reports contained Dieldrin. Well, you might think, I'll just wash it off. Think again -- like many pesticides, Dieldrin is absorbed into the pulp of the produce, so it's impossible to wash off.Instead of poisoning these healthy foods, there are safe and economical alternatives readily available. Let's encourage their use. Government policy should shift from protecting chemical manufacturers to helping farmers shift to sustainable methods of production.This is Jim Hightower saying ... Meanwhile, to get fruits & veggies that are good and truly good for you, look for certified organic produce.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.