Archive | pesticides

Why Are The Bees Dying?

Why are the bees dying?


Remember the film “Bee Movie”?  Remember when the bees went on strike and everything started to die?  Until I saw that movie, I had never really thought about that.  But it’s true!  If bees aren’t there to pollinate, many fruits, veggies, and flowers that rely on pollination… won’t produce their fruit.  Think almonds, blueberries, kiwi, and cocoa!  Yes chocolate!!  And that is the tip of the proverbial iceberg folks.

As far back as 2007, when Bee movie was released, colony collapse disorder (CCD) has been discussed.  Bees are disappearing and/or dying for unknown reasons.  Last winter 1/3 of all the bees in the US were lost.  

“Honeybees originally imported from Europe are used to pollinate $14.6 billion worth of fruits, nuts and other U.S. crops annually. Bees also have disappeared from hives in Brazil and across Europe.”

That is a LOT of pollinating!!!

Why is this happening?

That is the $64,000 question.   Some thoughts include:


What’s Next?

The bottom line for me – bees are disappearing, PERIOD!   If this continues, our food supply is in danger.  

This is definitely a topic I want to pay closer attention to.  To raise awareness I am joining with others in the Get The Buzz On Bees and Make Your Backyard Count Blog Fest.  Take a look at it for loads more information.

A new report from Friends of the Earth suggests that many garden products and plants sold at major retailers containing neonicotinoid insecticides are a major contributing factor to this issue.  For more information and ways you can help, click here.

Are you concerned about the bees?


Fruit Flies Be Gone

Since I was young, I have loved summer fruits – peaches, nectarines, strawberries, plums!  Yumm… you could only get these fruits in the summer so I looked forward to it.  
What I don’t like about summer fruit….  fruit flies!  They have started to show up at my house in the last couple of weeks.  Now, I could put the fruit in the fridg, but then they don’t taste as good and I won’t eat as much.  Neither will my kids.
How do I deal with the fruit flies?   Fruit flies are pretty easy to deal with without using any sort of pesticides.  All you need – a small glass, apple cider vinegar and some plastic wrap.
Don’t use your good, expensive apple cider vinegar (ACV)with The Mother, cheap store brand works great.


Fill the glass with about an inch or so of ACV

Place some plastic wrap over the top and poke some holes.
Sit it by your fruit bowl.



The fruit flies are attracted to the ACV, crawl in through the holes then can’t get out.
You’ll need to change the vinegar every few days.  It loses its effectiveness.
I used to use a piece of paper wrapped into a cone shape stuck in a jar for years.  It worked, but it’s a pain when you have to change the vinegar.  I find this method much easier.
Now some of you may recall that I gave up plastic wrap a couple of years ago.  Where did I get this?   I took a play out of my grandmother’s book and saved some that came on a pie or maybe it was mushrooms.
I set up my trap when I saw the first signs of fruit flies.  So far it seems to have kept them from getting out of control.  If you have a real problem with fruit flies,  clean your drain and remove any compost, rotten fruit, and garbage often.
Fruit flies are pretty easy to rid without the use of pesticides.  If you have other creepy crawlies in your home, you may be tempted to use the pesticides.  Like I was when confronted with even the idea of lice!  Take a deep breathe and look into pesticide-free alternatives.   According to Healthy Child Healthy World, step one of their 5 step plan to creating a healthier environment for your children is to avoid pesticides.
How do you deal with pests?

This post is part of Simple Lives ThursdayFrugal Days Sustainable Ways, and Tiny Tip Tuesday.


Ways To Avoid Pesticides in Produce on a Budget

Ways To Avoid Pesticides on a Budget

Conventional produce has pesticides even after washing.  Ideally it would be great if you could buy organic for all of your produce.   However, that’s not always possible – either you can’t afford or can’t find organic produce for everything you eat.  Now, what do you do?  
The Environmental Working Group has created a Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides which ranks pesticide contamination for almost 50 popular fruits and vegetables.  The 12 most contaminated foods are called the ‘dirty dozen’.  They include apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines (imported), grapes (imported),  sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries(domestic), lettuce, spinach, kale/collards.   There is also the ‘clean 15’ which are the 15 least pesticide ridden.  They include onions,  sweet corn, pineapple, avocados, asparagus, sweet peas (frozen), mango, eggplant, cantaloupe (domestic), kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, mushrooms.  
The obvious answer is to buy organic for the dirty dozen.  If that is not an option, the EWG still says “Eat your fruits and vegetables!  The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.”  Aim to reduce your pesticide exposure if you can’t totally eliminate it.  And let’s face it, eliminating it totally is probably going to be pretty tough.
Here are other ways to reduce your pesticide exposure:
  1. Buy from a local farm that is organic or uses other methods of pest control.  With summer approaching, farmers markets will be everywhere!
  2. Don’t buy the dirty dozen as frequently.  Even if you reduce the amount of strawberries you eat by half, that’s half the amount of pesticides.
  3. Exchange one of the dirty dozen for something lower on the list, ideally the clean 15.  For example, choose sweet potatoes over regular or cantaloupe/watermelon for peaches or nectarines.
  4. Try organic frozen varieties of the dirty dozen.  They are often less expensive.  I love this for smoothies.  Plus, it helps to satisfy the craving for that fruit, which means I don’t need to buy it fresh as often.
  5. To reduce residual pesticide, wash your fruits and vegetables well. 
  6. Do some pricing research.  You can find organic produce at pretty good prices if you look around.
  7. Take a look at other areas where you can save money so you can shift some of your budget to organics.
  8. Grow your own!
  9. Take a look at what you eat the most and concentrate on reducing the pesticides on those.  For example, even though carrots are not in the dirty dozen, they are still pretty high on the list and we eat lots of them.  I choose to buy these organic.  Costco used to have them at a fantastic price.  But I haven’t seen them in Nashua for a month!
Here are some specifics I have found:

Celery – I have seen organic for not much more.  You could just leave it out of your recipe, or substitute chopped cabbage, cucumbers or water chestnuts for the crunch and celery seed/salt for the flavor.  If you do buy organic celery and won’t use it all, try freezing it.   I have chopped celery, frozen it and used it in soups with much success.

Apples – Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s regularly have organic apples.  Since they keep so long, I stock up when I can.  Also, remember to buy organic applesauce.   Trader Joe’s has reasonably priced unsweetened organic applesauce that even my sweet tooth daughter loves!
Blueberries (Domestic) – Sounds odd, but try to look for imported blueberries.
Spinach –   For cooked dishes, broccoli is an option which is also high in carotenoids, vitamins A and C and folate.   If you can use frozen, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have organic frozen spinach at a reasonable price.
Kale/Collard Greens– I see organic kale at Hannaford quite regularly for not much more.
Potatoes –Try sweet potatoes.  They are more nutritious too.  I recently bought organic potatoes at Hannaford for the same price as non-organic.  The only difference being that I had to buy them in a 5 lb bag instead of choosing them individually.  Trader Joe’s also has them at a reasonable price.
Grapes (Imported) – I have been buying domestic grapes at Hannaford.  Although from January until about April, they are not available so we don’t buy as many grapes.
Just knowing which ones are high in pesticides will help you make better choices.  I often find myself opting for the lower pesticide fruits and veggies automatically now.  There are still plenty of great options that do not need to be organic. 
As a general rule of thumb, items lower on the pesticide scale tend to be fruits and veggies with thick skins that you do not eat – melons, mangoes, pineapples, grapefruits, kiwi, peas, corn.  Of course then there are cranberries and eggplant that mess that up, but it’s a start!
In case you still can’t remember all this, there is a pocket guide!  As soon as I posted this, the EWG updated their guide for 2011.  This post has been updated for the 2011 EWG guide.

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.





What’s In That Apple? | Greene Westford

In case you haven’t heard, I am nowing writing a weekly environmental column for an online local newspaper – WestfordPatch. My latest column is on pesticides in produce. It’s probably old news to most of you, but if you know someone who isn’t quite as green, it might be a good intro.

‘The Dirty Dozen’ and Avoiding Pesticides in Produce

Let me know what you think!


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