Pesticides play an important role in preserving our food, helping crops grow to their full potential, and reducing food waste. There is a lot of discussion and misinformation about pesticides that can be confusing for well-meaning parents. The following are straightforward, simple facts about pesticides that will help you come to your own conclusions about what belongs on your family’s dinner table.
The important thing to remember is pesticides help farmers protect and grow crops, ensuring we can all put fruit and veggies on our plates. And, medical professionals and leading human health organizations consistently encourage parents to feed their children more, not less, of a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Let’s start with the basics. What do pesticides do? In short, pesticides help crops survive and grow to their full, food-bearing potential. Because plants can’t move, they have few defense mechanisms to protect against invading pests that compete for the same land, resources and food. Weeds, insects, fungi and viruses are all threats to our crops, and pesticides help defend our food from them.
We’re a lot like plants. If we don’t get enough food or do come down with a cold, we can’t thrive. Similarly, crops that fall sick from viruses or invasive species do not produce as much food or do produce lower-quality food than they otherwise might have. Pesticides help farmers provide grocers with a consistent supply of high-quality food.
The word pesticide might sound like it has synthetic written all over it. What many shoppers don’t know is pesticides can be synthetic or nonsynthetic, as you would see in organic farming. An example of the difference between organic or synthetic is vitamin C. Vitamin C can come organically from oranges or synthetically from a supplement made in a lab.
That’s right! Whether a pesticide is synthetic or nonsynthetic doesn’t determine its safety — chemical characteristics determine that. The vitamin C in an orange is as safe as most vitamin C supplements. While a pesticide’s safety can be determined by a host of characteristics, how it is made is not one of them.
Yep. To put it quite simply, pesticides help to keep you and your family eating. The world’s population is increasing, and natural resources are declining. Throw climate change into the mix, and what you have are unprecedented challenging times for our food supply. Fortunately, pesticides are one of the solutions available to farmers to ensure they can keep growing and we can keep eating!
Many farmers live on the land they farm. Pesticides are used on the same plots of land they and their families live, eat and drink on. Why? Because farmers know that when carefully used as directed by the product label and in safe quantities, pesticides allow farmers to feed their families with the crops they grow on their land.
No matter where your food is grown, if it ends up on your grocery store shelf, strict regulations control the maximum amount of pesticide residue allowed on fruits and vegetables. It’s worth noting that those levels are always well below anything concerning to human health, typically expressed in parts per billion. And thanks to advances in science, the amount of active ingredient used by today’s farmers is around 95% lower than the rate used in the 1950s.
What’s safe for you to consume may not be safe for your child. That’s why regulatory scientists assess pesticide safety levels based on the most vulnerable populations — children, pregnant women and seniors. So, you can breathe easy knowing that any item at the grocery store has met or exceeded regulatory requirements.
Because farmers can minimise crop losses and grow healthier plants with crop protection programs, we have access to more diverse, high quality, and affordable food.
Ten facts are a great start, but they’re just that — a start. While the largest takeaway here is the benefit of eating fruits, vegetables and other crops that are protected by pesticides far outweighs the negative consequences of removing these foods from your diet, it’s always important to do your own food research.
And that’s it — our quick pesticide breakdown. Armed with the pesticide knowledge you need to enter your produce section with confidence, we’re certain you’ll continue to serve meals that meet the nutritional needs of your family.