I was alarmed when an odd message was reiterated by the reporter. He ignored ecological concerns. Instead he framed the issue of agricultural pesticides exclusively as one of individual health risk weighed against the limitations of household budget. But there were gaps even within that limited message framework: no encouragement for moms and other shoppers to shift their food spending from highly processed junk food to fresh fruits and vegetables. No mention of programs like Wholesome Wave, advocates who are rapidly doubling the value of food stamps at farmer's markets in18 states.
No, this news broadcast attitude could be stated: "You got your broccoli dollar, how ya gonna spend it?" Also absent was the sensible suggestion from Dr Andrew Weil that we let the market help determine what we eat. No organic broccoli? Eat organic cabbage and spinach instead.
When I care about an issue, I exhibit a fierce reflex to analyze its message framing and media coverge. I wish I could say I thought the story was prompted by a genuine interest in bringing health information to the public or even a promotional effort by the EWG. Instead I have a sneakin' suspicion that the pitch came from industry somewhere. In fact, the EWG last week identified a disinformation campaign from the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF). Without citing any evidence, the AFF claims Americans are consuming fewer fruits and vegetables because EWG publishes its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides.
According to the advocates at Environmental Working Group, the AFF is a classic "astroturf" group, representing more than 50 industrial produce growers’ groups and pesticide and fertilizer interests.
So here's my message on the subject:
Eating locally and organically-grown food -- including five servings of fruits and veggies each day -- is our collective stretch goal. Do your best as often as you can. Your loved ones, your body, the planet and your fellow humans thank you.