If you hear the word “pesticide” and immediately see a skull and crossbones, you’re not alone. But, like, is there anything to fear when it comes to these crop-tastic sprays? Let’s break down what pesticides actually are and take a step back to determine whether they are “good”, “bad”, or somewhere inbetween…
What Are Pesticides?
The word “pesticide” is kinda a blanket term. When you look up the definition on Dictionary.com, it’s described as “a substance used for destroying insects or other organisms harmful to cultivated plants or to animals.” And “other organisms” could be weeds, fungus, rats, or even fleas. Yup, if you have a flea medication for your four legged friend, it counts as a pesticide.
However, the skull and crossbones we see when we hear the word “pesticides” is normally related to crop sprays. So, why do they exist within farming?
Why Are They Used?
Farmers use them as a form of protection, to keep pests away from their crops. I mean, we get it. Imagine critters eating your whole annual salary. But aren’t there other ways of protecting your crops without all that chemical stuff?
Farmers often monitor their crops closely, so if a pest or bacteria presents they can take a mindful approach to protecting their harvest. They can use a biological approach, like introducing an opposing organic organism. Or a habitat change, like changing their watering system. Or mechanical, like using netting or traps. And sometimes, they use chemical pesticides.
Are Pesticides Bad For Your Health?
Look, we’re not going to say all pesticides are inherently bad for yo’ body. There are far too many variables to put ‘em into one “good” or “bad” box. However, what we do know is that the average person has around 29 pesticides in their body at any given time. Chemicals like mercury, cyanide and sometimes arsenic! Serious yuck.
Our Health Canada standards do have regulations that ensure levels are 100 – 1000 times below the toxicity limit per food item. But like, there’s no regulation around how many items you may eat something with pesticide residue.
Plus the farmers who use ‘em can suffer way worse side effects through skin or respiratory inhalation. Skin rashes, breathing problems, elevated heart rate or even neurotoxicity can occur. Pretty scary stuff.
Are Pesticides Bad For Our Planet?
Pesticides may be sprayed on land, but they can contaminate rivers, streams or leech into the groundwater. If this happens, it can throw the whole ecosystem off. These chemicals can even kill the fish or other animals who call those waters home.
And as if that wasn’t bad enough, a process called volatilization can occur where pesticides turn to vapor after they have been sprayed. This can be harmful to the neighbouring environment. As one small example, scientists believe that the pesticide atrazine causes reproductive issues in certain frogs, harming their population. We don’t know about you, but we’re all for more baby frogs and less about that pesticide life.
So What Can You Do?
At the end of the day, pesticides in small quantities are probably not a big dealio. But overuse of chemical sprays can have a big time impact on our environment and personal health.
Where you can, choose locally sourced or organic plant-based eats. Like our So Nice Soy or Almond M*lk or Naked Oat M*lk, made from organic oats.
If you have access to a farmers market, you can ask your local farmer what type of pesticides they use or what their growing practices are. And, if you can’t make it to a market, there are likely some pretty rad CSA box options near you. Psst… if ya don’t know, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Captain Google will know where you can sign up in your area.
At the end of the day, living a plant-based life is the single biggest thing you can do to protect our planet. Choosing organic whenever possible adds to this positive impact.
Eat delish, plant-based, organic eats, and help save the world at the same time? Sounds pretty legit to us!