Sunday, October 3, 2010

In the News Today

Today I invite you to chew on some news about food:

The Guardian reports on the ugly side of pineapple farming in Costa Rica: growing this fruit requires massive amounts of toxic pesticides, which not only poison consumers but also farm workers; price wars result in poor working conditions and wage cuts to save profit margins; residents in villages downstream from the plantations are forced to find alternative sources of water because the ground water is contaminated with cancer-causing, hormone-disrupting chemicals; and farm employees who dare to join labour unions are laid off and only rehired if they give up their affiliations, and then, at a lower wage than they were earning before. Read the full article here.

And NPR talks about the threat of lead contamination in urban gardens: in Baltimore, Brooklyn, Detroit, and Indianapolis, some abandoned lots contain soil laced with this toxic heavy metal which is used for urban agriculture by avid gardeners in the neighbouring communities. As for the origin of the lead, the likely culprits are industrial factories and old pipes. What are the dangers? Root vegetables and leafy greens that grow close to the ground tend to be "sticky" to lead, and no amount of scrubbing will get the metal back off. Lead poisoning can lead to serious illness, so please have your local health department test the soil before starting your own garden! Read the details here.

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