Ever wondered where those bags of bright green lettuce come from? The answer is from massive fields harvested by big machines.
Notice how perfect they are. How is that done? The answer is simple by repeated application of pesticides including insecticides and fungicides plus lots of artificial fertiliser to make then look very green.
Modern pesticides are systemic which means they get into every cell of the plant. They are designed to poison any insect that bites the plant. Systemic pesticides cannot be removed, no amount of washing will get them out.
The government sets the maximum amount of residual pesticide for each pesticide in common use. But there will a cocktail of different pesticides in every plant. There is no limit to the number pesticides used. There is little research as to of effects on human health of regularly consuming pesticide cocktails, even if the residues for each individual chemical stays within the limits. Nobody knows how they might react with each other. Things are changing as concern grows about the food we eat, see this report.
Lettuce are fed a lot of artificial fertiliser to ensure that they grow quickly and look very green. That produces more problems. First, not all the fertiliser is used, the surplus is washed into ditches, then rivers and then the sea. Excess nitrogen in water is a big problem yet is virtually ignored.
The other concern is that the soil used on farms has become depleted. It does not hold together well so get washed off in heavy rain or blows about when it is dry because it contains very little organic matter. Soil loss from erosion is a massive issue for the UK and the world with a prediction that we only have about 40 years of topsoil left. What then?
When the lettuce will be ready to harvest they are picked by hand and packed into plastic bags ready to be shipped to the retailer. Supermarkets will control the whole process from telling the farmer what variety to grow, how to manage the crop and how many bagged lettuce they want on a certain date. The field becomes an extension of the shop floor, part of a mass production process geared to make the maximum profit for the retailer.
All this because consumers have been led to believe that the cheapest, mass produced factory food is best. Bur cheap food comes with hidden costs – read about mineral deficiencies in modern food.
People often ask why bother to pay the extra for organic produce. The answer is simple, choose food that is grown in rich fertile soils without the use of pesticides that produces more nutrient dense food that is much more sustainable or stick with factory farming. It’s you choice!
This is a link to a lettuce table we made a few years back where you can grow your own even without a garden. We are about to make another so stay tuned – video to follow.