National Editor Tom Karst
National Editor Tom Karst

Don't blame the American public or "agriculture chemical interests" for the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde act that is the Environmental Working Group.

The EWG seems to want to praise fruits and vegetables but to bury fruit and vegetable producers.  A recent column by Alex Formuzis tries to clarify the EWG position.  In a piece  titled "EWG wants you to eat your fruits and vegetables," Formuzis said that one question the group often receives from consumers is: "Should I eat fruits and vegetables on your Dirty Dozen list? Because it certainly sounds like I shouldn't."

No, I kid - that isn't how the FAQ reads that Formuzis reproduces. Here is the excerpt from the column:

This comes from the Frequently Asked Questions section in last year's edition of EWG's "Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce:"

Should I stop eating celery or blueberries or other produce items on your Dirty Dozen list?

 No, that has never been the Shopper's Guide message. We would certainly recommend produce from our Dirty Dozen list in lieu of other, less-healthy foods or snacks, like fat-, sugar- or additive-laden processed products. But with the Shopper's Guide you can have all the benefits of eating more produce while substantially reducing dietary exposure to pesticides.

No group in the public interest community has done more than EWG to advocate for shifting federal resources away from large commodity crop growers and toward conventional and organic fruit and vegetable production and healthy food initiatives for families and schools. One of EWG's top priorities in the current fight over the 2012 farm bill is to take $1.5 billion in tax dollars that have been going to grain and cotton growers and use that money instead to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to the 30 million+ kids enrolled in more than 100,000 schools served by the federal school lunch program.

EWG has been loud and clear all along that consumers should eat a diet rich in fruits and veggies, but we're also concerned about dietary exposures to pesticides -- particularly in young children -- and that's the glaring difference between us and the AFF trade group, its members and other chemical agriculture interests.

TK: Somehow consumers can't connect with the message "Enjoy the heck out of your fruits and vegetables, even if they are on our Dirty Dozen list." Eating these pesticide-laden fruits and veggies might be better than injecting lard into your bloodstream, EWG seems to say.

EWG can't continue to have it both ways. Either they are for conventional blueberries or they are against them. Either the federal safeguards in place for pesticide use on fresh produce are sufficient or they are not. If EWG really believes in fruits and veggies, the group should drop all references to "Dirty Dozen" from its website immediately.

Alas, I'm afraid it won't happen. Mr. Hyde will have none of it.


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