In light of recent local and worldwide reports on the abuse of pesticides on conventional produce, and scientific evidence directly linking pesticides to illnesses and disease, Farmer’s Deli has been receiving an increased number of queries from customers, indicating greater concern about controls on what we eat.
Two local and 2 international reports caught our attention.
A report published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that more than one in 10 conventional greens tested in Malta were sprayed with chemicals (most prominently bromide) over the legal limit, at least 5 times higher than the European average. This comes at the same time when around a dozen local farmers are currently facing charges in court after the MCCAA, Malta’s controlling body, found that they exceeded the legal amount of pesticide use, after testing for chemical residues. These residues can pose a public health risk and have been linked to a variety of health problems, from headaches and nausea to serious illnesses, such as cancer and endocrine disruption. Maltese farmers, along with the Cypriots, also got called out for being the only ones in the EU to not have their pesticide sprayers and other equipment inspected by the authorities since 2016.
The Times of Malta also reported on a case in the US where a pesticide linked to potentially irreversible neurological impairments and proper development following prenatal exposure was banned. This pesticide, called chlorpyrifos, was found to be overused even in the EU. The MCCAA in Malta confirmed that this was the same chemical which registered the highest reading during pesticide overuse testing.
Monsanto, the agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation, also hit the headlines when it lost a court case after it was found liable for a terminally ill groundskeeper’s cancer and was instructed to pay him $289,000,000 in damages. Monsanto was accused that not only its Roundup weedkiller caused his cancer, but the corporation also did not warn him of health hazards from exposure. In the verdict, the jury ruled that the company was responsible for “negligent failure” and knew or should have known that its product was in fact dangerous. Internal documents proved that Monsanto had known for decades that its Roundup brand products could cause cancer.
Amid the rulings of the landmark court case came the findings that another weed-killing chemical (glyphosate) in the Roundup products was found in a lot of popular breakfast cereals including Cheerios, Quaker Oats and Kellogg’s. The level of the chemical in the products tested was above what the US Environmental Working Group considered safe for consumption by children.
With all this in mind, we at Farmer’s Deli make it our mission to ensure that we source certified-organic produce with traceability and lot numbers, holding every producer accountable. Our suppliers in Sicily, Italy, Spain, France and Holland carry out regular quality control routines, securing their standards. Our operations are run in a way that guarantees that the produce we sell, not being treated artificially, is kept in the best way possible, travelling in temperature-controlled transport from harvest to delivery, to maintain its quality. We also support the very few local certified-organic farms, meaning that some of our produce doesn’t have to travel at all.
To stay informed and ensure you are getting the best for your health, we recommend you ask a couple of questions when buying organic. What is the country of origin of the produce/product? Is the item certified by a controlling body in the country of origin? Is the source traceable?
In conclusion, organic produce, by nature, is more expensive than conventional. Yields are less, there is more spoilage and the labour involved is more intensive. However, it is still possible to eat clean on a budget. How? Stick to what is seasonal in the region.