Friday, June 4, 2010

Dr. Weil on EWG´s Shopper´s Guide to Pesticides

Dr. Andrew Weil, renowned medical expert on natural health and wellness, tells why and how he uses the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists from EWG´s Shoppers Guide to Pesticides.

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Why Should You Care About Pesticides?
The growing consensus among scientists is that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can cause lasting damage to human health, especially during fetal development and early childhood. Scientists now know enough about the long term consequences of ingesting these powerful chemicals to advise that we minimize our
consumption of pesticides.

What’s the Difference?
EWG research has found that people who eat five fruits and vegetables a day from the Dirty Dozen list consume an average of 10 pesticides a day. Those who eat from the 15 least contaminated conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables ingest fewer than 2 pesticides daily. The Guide helps consumers make informed choices to lower their dietary pesticide load.

Will Washing and Peeling Help?
The data used to create these lists is based on produce tested as it is typically eaten (meaning washed, rinsed or peeled, depending on the type of produce). Rinsing reduces but does not eliminate pesticides. Peeling helps, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the skin. The best approach: eat a varied diet, rinse all produce and buy organic when possible.

How Was This Guide Developed?
EWG analysts have developed the Guide based on data from nearly 96,000 tests for pesticide residues in produce conducted between 2000 and 2008 and collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. You can find a detailed description of the criteria EWG used to develop these rankings and the complete list of fruits and vegetables tested at our dedicated website,

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Farmer vs Farmer....Organic Valley Lays Down the Law on Raw Milk

Organic Valley started up in 1988 with a vision of being a different kind of milk cooperative, one that helped save small family dairies via promoting organic dairy products. "It was an idealistic, mission-oriented place in those days, spreading the gospel about the benefits of organic dairy and founded on the premise of economic justice for farmers," recalls Mark Kastel, who served as a consultant to Organic Valley a year after it launched. (He's currently head of the Cornucopia Institute, a watchdog organization that monitors dairy compliance with organic standards.)

That idealism and Americans' insatiable appetite for organic food helped propel Organic Valley onto a rapid growth path. Today it has more than 1,600 dairies and upwards of $500 million in annual sales, along with a premier brand in the organic food marketplace with its line of milk, butter, yogurt, and cheese. Unfortunately, at least some of the idealism has vanished, thanks to a bitter year long struggle among the farmers about whether the co-op should allow its dairies to sell or distribute unpasteurized, or "raw," milk on the side.

Last week, the board voted four to three to prohibit its member dairies from selling raw milk. "It's not a fun issue here," says George Siemon, the CEO. "Everyone on the board drinks raw milk." It's been the most bitter dispute in the enterprise's 22 year history, he says. The decision threatens to tear Organic Valley apart, or at least hamper its business effectiveness, by raising two major risks.

First, Organic Valley could lose a significant number of its dairy members. No one knows how many of its dairies sell raw milk, but 10% seems a conservative estimate, according to co-op insiders. That means 150 or 200 dairies, minimum, are selling raw milk. For those dairies, the business challenge is that raw milk fetches between $5 and $10 a gallon, while Organic Valley and other co-ops typically pay in the vicinity of $1.50 per gallon for bulk milk that then goes to pasteurization. But because most of the raw dairies are far from urban centers, where demand for raw milk is greatest, and are limited in most large states like Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts to selling direct from the farm, it's difficult to sell all their milk unpasteurized.....Read the entire article.

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