The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released its annual Pesticide Data Program report. The government findings were consistent with those from previous years: “Residues do not pose a food safety concern.”
Also consistent with previous years, there was no coverage at all from mainstream media about this positive government report concerning the safety of our food.
What is even more concerning than this lack of “good news” coverage is what consumers regularly do hear about produce safety.
Last week Dr. Oz ran another story which inaccurately made this claim about a popular produce item: “…toxic pesticides have seeped in by the time it reaches the supermarket. And washing them does not help.”
And, recently a national retail chain joined in with an in-store bag which used statements about “toxic and persistent pesticides” to promote organic produce over conventional.
This is ironic since this chain profits from the sale of conventional fruits and vegetables in its stores.
We have continually stated that the motivation of the entities who perpetuate these inaccurate, increasingly negative messages about the safety of conventional produce doesn’t matter.
The result is the same — it undermines efforts by health experts and the government, including the first lady’s
Let’s Move campaign to improve diets by increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Affordable and accessible
One cannot dispute that conventional produce is the more affordable and accessible choice for most consumers so questioning the safety of that choice must be counterproductive to efforts to improve diets.
The Safe Fruits and Veggies campaign launched in 2010 is seeing success against this prevalent misinformation.
Last year we saw a significant decline in mainstream media coverage of the annual release of the “dirty dozen” list by an activist group. This list will be released again soon and the alliance will continue to provide science-based information about the safety of all fruits and vegetables to mainstream media.
We will also initiate an expanded and more targeted outreach to consumers via social media channels. Our hope is that through distribution of this information, consumers can read, learn and then make the appropriate shopping choices for themselves and their families.
It is fruitless to ask Dr. Oz, activist groups and the others to stop disparaging safe and healthy produce. We’ve tried, and it seems that their motivation is too strong.
However, the alliance leadership’s motivation and commitment to counter this disparagement is also strong. We might be a small organization with limited funding, but our message is truthful, accurate and grounded in science.
Marilyn Dolan is executive director of the Alliance for Food and Farming.
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