I’ve been thinking about this recently. I’ve been able to avoid the topic for the last couple of years since I started my garden and Orchard. But I started using RoundUp last year for technical reasons on a building project, and I guess that opened me up to the idea. I don’t think I’ll be able to grow peaches or grapes anymore ( at least) unless I use pesticides. I just bought my first beetle and bug pesticide for my grapes today.
I guess I grew up hearing all the horror stories about things like Tholidimide babies ( met a woman with no arms from that) and cancer from “approved” chemicals that are used in our every day life.
But I’ve heard that not only the produce we buy, but all of the food products that have any kind of agricultural base, which is most of them, have much higher levels of pesticides and herbicides in them then we would ever use in our own gardens if we used them only when necessary.
Is this true?
For perspective, I keep remembering something one of my professors said about how there’s no such thing as an ‘unnatural’ drug or chemical, they all essentially occur in nature and they’ve just been refined in some manner to make them more powerful.
Is it a healthier option if I use pesticides when there’s a problem, as opposed to buying fruit at the store? Even if you use much less, wouldn’t you be at a higher risk because you’re actually working around the stuff ( spraying etc) in a comparatively high volume as opposed to just eating some fruit?
You raise good points, all of them.
There definitely are issues such as Thalidomide, but that was a prescribed chemical -a tranquilizer in this case- taken in specific amounts- and almost certainly much more concentrated than the amounts we experience in eating store-bought conventional produce. I’m wary myself of trusting people who sell stuff!
Remember, growers don’t like spending money on chemicals if they can reasonably avoid it, and will target their pests as tightly as possible to maximize results. And they have to observe mandated pre-harvest intervals, meaning that the residual chemicals have considerable time to break down and dissipate.
And yes, handling the chemicals can put you and those around you at risk, but reasonable caution can prevent unreasonable risk. You can get a lot of guidance here, but the label is the law. Storage matters, handling matters.
That’s just my opinion- I hope you get a good discussion on it.
Several years ago I was asked to speak about growing fruits at a seminar. While discussing common apple pests and potential control measures I had a lady in the crowd heckle me for using “pesticides” at they are bad for health, bad for environment ect.
I had a hard time trying to convince her otherwise. Finally I asked if she purchased vegetables and fruit from the supermarket? When she said yes, I asked her if the potatoes she bought were never sprayed by airplane (common practice on potato
fields in WI), the carrots were never sprayed by the grower for Cercospora, the corn was never sprayed for corn earworm by the canning/freezing companies that contract grow with local farmers…ect
Well, that finally shut her up. I am not saying that pesticides are bad and should never be used. Just saying that when used responsibly and at the rate/time suggested for application I would hope it is safe. We all know the stories of DDT and Lead arsenate and Paris Green so that is not always so but I have to hope that the legal guidelines for pesticides instilled by our government are making it as safe as possible.
Funny how those who worry the most about pesticides are the same people who never think about what was used to produce the fresh/canned/frozen fruit and veggies they consume from the local grocery stores.
The term “natural” is overused and more importantly it is MIS-used.
Bee honey is natural and putting on an open cut might be medicinally helpful. On the other hand Cobra venom is “natural” too, but I would not recommend putting it on an open cut.
Chemicals are not EVIL . I don’t think aspirin is naturally occurring but I think that we can agree that, generally, it is a “good” chemical although “un-natural”.
I wonder if, generally, humans are inherently mentally lazy and “labeling” things is just a way to avoid having to think through a decision.
There are several threads here wherein @alan has referenced long term studies of unprotected insecticide & herbicide applicators were no more likely to suffer health effects than the regular public and, for some diseases were less likely to suffer those ( Hey… @alan - correct me if I mis-spoke).
So … spray with your head and it should be ok.
Chemicals are dangerous and should be dealt with using great respect. It’s no different than how we approach fire, a car, or any other thing we use. No self respecting alligator farmer takes a care free approach to his job nor should you to chemicals. My advice is protect yourself as much as possible regardless what your doing. When it comes to chemicals know what your spraying and why and when you spray do it because you have no other choice.
Not to be a complete pedant, but technically we are all made up of “chemicals.” What most people are worried about are synthetically produced chemical substances.
Not that it matters to your point, with which I wholeheartedly agree, but aspirin is the synthesized version of naturally occurring acetyl salicylic acid- willow bark is a great source, and the tea works- but it’s hard on the stomach. If I remember correctly the inventor of the synthesis was working to develop a version that his arthritic father could use without so much stomach pain. And in fact (again if I remember correctly) it was Merck that gave us that one in the late 19th century, about the same time heroin and cocaine were being initiated!
Better living through chemistry- moral is, know your chemicals and treat 'em with respect.
The naturally occurring compound is salicylic acid, and aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid (synthesized), which is similar but less irritating. Aspirin was named and popularized by Bayer.
Not only do commercial growers for supermarkets use pesticides they also use sprays for non -rotting as the fruit is usually picked early; reason for it being tastless, and the again for shipping. And we worry about one or two sprays in our back yard? Wear a mask, nitrile gloves long pants, long sleeved shirt, hat and goggles. Wash your fruit and enjoy it!
Synthetic chemicals are not dangerous just because they are synthetic.
Hence the "spray with your head’ comments.
You know, this morning before I turned on my computer I found myself thinking “Or was it Bayer … ?”
Thanks for the corrections.
As a general rule, the closer the pest is to us (human being) in terms of their genetic makeup the more likely small amounts of the pesticide can do real harm. My stance in general is that if we are already getting trace amounts of herbicides and pesticides from the air, water and food we consume then limiting potential exposure at home is the safest and best option. If it is required, then limited spraying on fruits and vegtables makes sense to me, especially since these foods are good for our overall health and taste great, but it is hard for me to see the necessity to use roundup or similar herbicides at a home garden unless you are dealing with an aggresive invasive species. Just my 2 cents, but I feel herbicides are over used and may cause similar issues that we are seeing with antibiotics.
Thanks for your insights everyone. Based on this thread, I did some research on DDT and “Silent Spring”. Very interesting that apparently it created the ‘environmental movement’. Also, that it’s development was in part because of the Tholidimide scandal that had just happened, prior to the books release.
I think the issue is so complicated that it’s difficult to be conclusive about anything. However, I would be comfortable using pesticides if I knew how much was being used on the food I’m already eating. And then use less.
One of my wife’s friends works at a ‘you pick’ professional grape orchard locally. I’ll have to harass her to get specific information about this. I’d also like to visit a local peach farm this year and see if they’re willing to answer some questions.
another way to avoid using pesticides is grow fruit that isn’t bothered by pests. honey berries, elderberry, goumi, autumn olive, buffaloberry and seaberries are some i grow. also notice the last 4 mentioned are nitrogen fixers.
When people tell me that they only eat “Organic” I remind them that gasoline is organic, but I would not suggest that you drink it!
I like to bag my apples. It protects them well from most things, and I get nice clean fruit at harvest. But bagging works a lot better with one or two sprays of Immunox and Spectracide to deal with PC and Scab before the bags go on.
I mostly use compost to fertilize my gardens, but I am not averse to tossing some 10-10-10 on something that needs a little help.
I guess that my attitude can be summed up as “I prefer things mostly natural, but if a modern chemical is needed to lend a hand, I am okay with that too.” Everything in moderation seems the most reasonable course for me.
what kind of bags do you put on them and at what stage? sounds like a great way to keep the bugs off.
There are several threads of bagging fruit with pictures. You may want to look those up.
Zipper sandwich bags. I buy them from a local packaging store that sells bags and moving boxes and stuff like that. $22 for 1000 zip sandwich bags in 2 mil clear plastic. Of course, that is Canadian $, so an equivalent would be about $17 US, FYI.
I did not believe that it would work, no matter how many threads I read about it, so I had to try it for myself. It works great. The only bugs that seem to be able to get into a bag are earwigs. Not sure how they do it, but they are occasionally successful at entering a sealed bag.
I always tell 'em rattlesnake venom and poison ivy!
ill still spray for bugs and fungus on the foliage anyway so hopefully control them as well.