You’re just gonna love this one.
Guess how the USDA (a.k.a. Big Agriculture’s new best friend) is spending $180,000 of our hard-earned money smack-dab in the middle of a recession?
Give up? They’ve cranked up the propaganda machine by forking over the cash to help back a website and accompanying campaign encouraging us to ignore the pesticides that are polluting our produce.
I’ve written to you before about the “Dirty Dozen and Clean 15” list put out by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The group scoured through the USDA’s most recent 202-page Pesticide Data Program report to give us a 12-item list of the fruits and vegetables that have been found to be the most loaded with toxic pesticides.
Spending just one moment looking at the “Dirty Dozen and Clean 15” shopping guide that EWG produces…not to mention all the additional information it provides on it’s website…will make one thing abundantly clear to you. The EWG is encouraging us to eat lots of fruits and veggies, steering us toward the produce that’s less likely to be contaminated with toxic pesticides, and persuading us to choose organic options when possible.
In fact, in the introduction to the guide there’s a quote from Ken Cook, president and founder of Environmental Working Group, that says, "We recommend that people eat healthy by eating more fruits and vegetables, whether conventional or organic.”
So why then when you visit the oh so cheerfully named SafeFruitsandVeggies.com website are you told that, “Promotion of lists, like the "Dirty Dozen," are actually an impediment to public health because they discourage consumption of fruits and vegetables.“
You don’t have to dig too deep to figure that one out. (I challenge you, however, to find it on their own website…after about 10 minutes, I gave up.) According to a recent article in The Atlantic, the wallets behind the “independent nonprofit organization” are none other than some of the biggest players in Big Agriculture. The lineup includes heavy hitters like Sunkist, Western Growers, The California Association of Pest Control Advisors, and The California Strawberry Association.
So why then is the USDA helping to foot the bill for a website that’s run by a bunch of executives from corporate agriculture and is little more than a self-serving campaign designed to slam the EWG and its attempt to make us educated and safer consumers?
What’s more, why in the world is the USDA signing a check to fund a group that appears to be questioning its own data?
To be honest it’s hard to figure out if this is just a bizarre case of uninformed negligence or some kind of a “scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours” deal gone wrong. But regardless of which it is, I think you’ll probably agree with me when I say that government-sponsored bullying like this is not an appropriate use of tax dollars.
I’m wondering if the USDA is a dirty bully or just a clueless one.