Don't Let Annual List Release Put a Damper On Spring

4/1/2014 10:14 AM

It’s April now, spring is here which means an even bigger variety of healthy and safe fruit and veggies will be available to consumers at restaurants, grocery stores and farmers’ markets. But before consumers can get too excited, they’ll be greeted this month with the annual release of the “dirty dozen” list which inaccurately calls into question the safety of fruits and vegetables most popular among American consumers.

But prior to dampening consumer enthusiasm about spring produce by promoting or covering the “dirty dozen” list, the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) asks that people read the actual USDA Pesticide Data Program report  first.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) says it bases its so-called list on this government report so why not read what it actually says.  Then review the peer reviewed Journal of Toxicology paper which analyzed EWG’s list methodology. 

(If you don’t have time to read the full USDA report, there are concise consumer Q&As that summarize the objective of the government sampling program as well as the results.  And, by reading just the abstract of the peer reviewed paper you can learn about the scientists’ conclusions.)

Once you review this information, you will likely come away with several questions for EWG.  Here are some of ours:

  • Why doesn’t EWG provide links on its website to the USDA’s PDP Report for reference? This is a common and necessary practice when repeatedly referencing a study or report (which EWG does with the USDA report) and is important for transparency. 
  • Why would EWG criticize regulatory systems in place governing the use of conventional pesticides and state they are inadequate when many of those same systems are in place to ensure the safe use of organic pesticides as well? The government systems for regulating the use of both organic and conventional pesticides are rigorous and health protective.
  • Why does EWG use years-old data to compile their list?  Some of the residue samples they include are almost a decade old. For perspective, those samples were taken around the same time Mr. Zuckerburg was launching Facebook at Harvard University.  How can including sampling data that old be helpful information to consumers today?
  • Why doesn’t EWG submit their report and list for peer review?  Publication in a peer reviewed journal is a normal progression for reports that make scientific claims or assumptions.
  • EWG states “conventional produce is safe to eat,” so why have a list at all?

The AFF has repeatedly asked EWG questions about their “dirty dozen” list. Most of our questions go unanswered because they are simply, well, unanswerable since this list is not science based nor logical.  If anyone does ask a question or two and gets an answer from EWG, please let us know.  We’ll be happy to share their answers via this blog at any time. 

In the meantime, the AFF encourages consumers to enjoy the beauty and bounty of spring provided by farmers working hard every day to deliver safe and healthy food to consumers everywhere.

Read, learn, choose but eat more organic and conventional fruits and veggies each day for better health and a longer life.


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