Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What do you eat?

I would like to bring to your attention the issue of agrichemicals and the dire need to bring about reform in this area. I would first like to start by telling you about the Huichols in Mexico. They work on big corporate farms and these corporate farms use lots of agrichemicals, mostly pesticides. The Huichols cannot read the bottles of pesticides to even begin to understand how severely toxic these chemicals are to they’re bodies. They are not properly equipped to spray the crop fields that they are asked to. They get these chemicals all over their bodies and into their lungs. Some Huichols even mix the pesticides by hand because they have no other tool to mix the solution up with. These people get sick from the pesticides; most cases are never reported unless the person actually dies in a clinic. These people end up blind, paralyzed, riddled with cancer, and often dead. Children that are forced to work in these fields and in these conditions are often the ones most at risk due to their low tolerance to the toxins. Neither U.S. nor Mexican government does anything to regulate the toxins that are being used to control pests. According to a film ‘Fed Up’ there are about 32 pesticides that are being used in Mexico today that have been completely banned all over the world, yet we let these pesticides back into our country when we import the produce that has the toxic residue still on it. No one is benefitting from this other than the corporations that are making and selling the agrichemicals. We as consumers are still at risk by consuming these chemicals every time we sit down to a meal. It is well known that these chemicals are toxic and deadly to anyone who touches them. To avoid liability the companies that produce them promote ‘safe use’ and 'say' they give demonstrations on how to use the chemicals properly. The problem is that many countries do not have what is needed to safely apply the chemicals. Also, many of the people who apply the chemicals are unable to even read the labels that are on the bottles and have no way of even knowing that these are highly toxic chemicals they are dealing with. 

There are also many ecological costs as well as health risks. Birds in Central America are at risk because their food source is poisoned; this poisoning affects the bird’s reproductive organs. Fish in the same area get drowned in run off poison twice a year, and cattle eat the contaminated grass and are also poisoned. The poisoning does not only affect humans, but ecosystems as well. According to the articles ‘Circle of Poison’ a worker in a developing country dies ever MINUTE due to poisoning. 20% of the pesticides exported from the U.S. have been banned in the U.S. Even after a worker has showered twice there is still enough toxic residue in their skin to kill a goldfish in a bowl of water. 

We are also robbing cultures of the ability to provide for themselves. They are in debt to pesticide companies for life because they are trying to compete with the global food system in hope of finding a better life. 

Are you aware of where your food comes from? How it's produced? Who handles it? I challenge you to really think about these things. People all around the world are suffering because we want to eat berries during the winter, because we don't eat local foods, because we want our food to look perfect. 

Buy local, eat local. Plant a garden. Eat foods in season. Learn to cook. Eat less meat. There are a billion and one things you can do to change your way of eating. Don't benefit from other peoples hardships.

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