Created on 2020-03-13 20:37
Published on 2020-03-13 23:39
There’s a moment in every new parent’s life when they suddenly take stock of the threats to their child’s health. With a quick online search they’ll discover we have phthalates in our sippy cups, pharmaceuticals in our tap water, toxic chemicals on our grass, pesticides in our rain, and hormones in our food. It’s enough to make a new parent panic in desperation.
Government agencies, of course try to reassure us. Studies show, they say, that each substance is safe by itself. Don’t worry, they say, industry wouldn’t sell you something dangerous. Independent scientists, not paid by industry, have a different take: all the minute amounts of individual toxic chemicals may not kill you right away, but the toxic assault of all the chemicals, adjuvants, and synthetic materials are taking a serious toll on public health.
Dr. David Lewis, a career research scientist, has this to say about the threat:
“Toxic Soup Capacity” is the capacity of a population to withstand exposures to increasingly complex combinations of harmful environmental pollutants, beyond which the population risks annihilation. It marks the point at which adverse health effects outpace the rates at which evolutionary processes can enable populations to adapt.
Even before birth babies are exposed to environmental contamination including pesticides in uterine blood. During the first few years of life, the assault on their immature immune systems can overwhelm the capacity to provide protection. The Toxic Soup contains substances the body may not recognize correctly as friend or foe. Permanent debilitating changes to the neurological, digestive, immune and other systems can result.
The Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, and Food & Drug Administration have largely stopped effectively regulating the dangerous chemicals in the Toxic Soup. (In fact, they have just launched a coordinated tax-payer funded campaign on behalf of the biotech and chemical industries to promote the use of glyphosate on genetically modified crops.) Several substances that are known to be persistent and dangerous have been reapproved for use.
As federal oversight decays, state and local authorities have taken an equally lax approach – until now. Local community groups, often lead by parents and schoolchildren, are restricting the use of toxic synthetic fertilizers and pesticides on their local parks and playing fields. Groundskeepers are being retrained to use pesticide-free organic turf management, with startling results.
What about weeds? Weeds don’t grow in healthy turf rooted in healthy soil. Weeds evolved to fill the dead spaces where other plants don’t want to grow – exactly the spaces created by heavy applications of herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, fungicides and insecticides. By re-starting grass with organic nutrients and taking simple steps like letting it grow a little longer between mowing, weeds largely disappear.
Doesn’t organic turf need more water? Not at all! Properly managed healthy soil builds organic matter. A one percent increase of organic matter will help retain 25,000 gallons of water – moisture that is released slowly over time as plant roots grow. Many organically managed parks and playing fields report reducing water use by half.
So, it’s safe for kids and pets to use these fields? Exactly! Babies and kids naturally play with grass and toys that contract grass. Then those fingers go right into their mouths. Pets will actually eat the grass, not just roll around in it. With organic management practices, playtime in the park becomes safe time in the park instead of something else for parents to worry about.
How do I create organic parks in my neighborhood? Consider reaching out to Beyond Pesticides. BP is a 35 year old non-profit that specializes in helping communities create safe landscapes free from toxic pesticides. The organization identifies local schools, towns, counties and companies that are ready to get off the chemical treadmill.
Natural Grocers is coordinating a nationwide fundraiser to support Beyond Pesticides Organic Neighborhoods programs. You can take the Lady Bug Love Pledge not to use toxic pesticides on your home garden and lawn, and the company will donate $1.00 to the cause. During April, Natural Grocers is asking shoppers to pitch in a dollar at checkout to support local efforts to create pesticide-free parks and playing fields. The goal is to raise $250,000 top jump start Organic Neighborhoods programs in dozens of communities.
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