Organic Food Is Not Pesticide Free

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on February 22, 2018 · 0 comments

Many buy organic foods to avoid pesticides but contrary to what most people believe, over 100 different pesticides can be used by organic farmers. All farmers, whether they are organic or conventional, employ strategies to protect their crops. The difference is the type of pesticides used.

Organic farmers tend to use natural substances such as soaps, lime sulfur, neem oil, diatomaceous earth (a powder-like substance which is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton), and pepper. These pesticides are approved by the National Organic Program (NOP) which also allows about 25 synthetic pesticides for use by organic farmers such as alcohols, copper sulfate and hydrogen peroxide. Over 900 synthetic pesticides have been approved for use in conventional farming.

Many farming methods employed by organic farmers such as crop rotations and mixed plantings also reduces the need for pesticides. When an organic farmer decides to use an approved synthetic pesticide, organic agricultural rules require that it be used only as a last resort to secure a crop’s safety. Though most of the pesticides used in organic farming are considered safe for humans and the environment a few are still considered problematic such as rotenone, spinosad and copper-based pesticides.

When you choose to buy organically grown fruits and vegetables, the foods may not be pesticide free, but they are likely to have less pesticide residues than conventional foods.

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