Jenny Maloney, Food Chain and Sustainability Manager at Bayer, Crop Science Division
Putting nutrition first
There are lots of ways to buy fruits and veggies. You can get them at the grocery store, online, a farmers’ market, or a local roadside stand. You may opt for conventionally grown produce, or maybe you prefer organic. We are lucky to have so many options, but it can be overwhelming given different labeling and growing techniques.
Selecting where and how your food is produced is an important personal consideration, as well as ensuring proper nutrition for your family by including a diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables. Medical and nutrition experts agree that maintaining healthy eating may reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Counting on safe food
It’s important to focus on getting enough fruits and veggies on your family’s plate, but what about the safety of the food we eat, and things like pesticide residues in our food?
Around the world, regulatory authorities monitor our food supply. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and USDA scientists routinely test to help make sure Americans have safe food. And, EPA regulations aim to protect all people, especially infants and children who may eat fresh produce. And, the USDA has a pesticide data program (PDP) that samples, tests and reports pesticide resides on ag products in the U.S. food supply, with a focus on those produces that are highly consumed by infants and children. Full background on the program can be found here.
One of the top questions I get from friends and family is, “so, if there is a pesticide residue on the food, is it safe?” EPA notes, “just because a pesticide residue is detected on a fruit or vegetable, that does not mean it is unsafe.” To put the risk of pesticide exposure into context, a child would have to consume 181 servings of strawberries in one day (that’s 1,448 large strawberries) to reach the level where adverse effects could potentially be seen from the highest pesticide residue recorded by USDA.
My background in agriculture and my job give me a first hand view of farmers and the hard work they do everyday to ensure we have healthy, high quality, abundant, affordable food. If you’ve ever had a small garden plot, you probably understand how difficult it can be grow a crop and protect them from different pests and diseases.
Continuing to question
There are always questions that arise about how something so personal to us (food) is grown and produced. Questions are good – and always welcome by any grower you talk to. As someone who grew up on a farm, has built a career through jobs in all facets of agriculture, and who now works for a large agricultural company, I believe that that your questions and concerns push all of us in the food chain to be more transparent and to better dialogue with consumers. (Check out our transparency iniatiative here.)
So please keep the questions coming.