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70% of Produce Sold in US is Contaminated With Pesticides, Even After You Wash It

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US Produce Pesticides
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If you’re buying fresh fruits and vegetables in the United States, 70 percent of it will carry pesticide residues on it even after you’ve washed it, according to a new study from a widely-respected health advocacy group.

The Environmental Working Group’s annual analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture data offers grim evidence of the over-saturation of pesticides and toxic chemicals in conventional agriculture in the United States, with top crops such as spinach and strawberries counting among the most contaminated produce.

The group hopes the report will inform shoppers of the risks inherent in buying and consuming conventionally-grown produce versus organic fruits and vegetables.

Most surprisingly, kale–that trendy dark green superfood that’s risen to the top of health-conscious grocers’ lists in the past decade–is among the top three contaminated fruits and vegetables, with 92 percent of non-organic kale containing residues from at least two or more pesticides. Some kale sampled carried the residue of no less than 18 different types of pesticides.

In a statement, EWG toxicologist Alexis Temkin said:

“We were surprised kale had so many pesticides on it, but the test results were unequivocal … Fruits and vegetables are an important part of everyone’s diet, and when it comes to some conventionally grown produce items, such as kale, choosing organic may be a better option.”

Both spinach and kale carried between 10 to 80 percent more pesticide residue by sheer weight than any other crop, respectively ranking second and third on the “dirty dozen” list of popular vegetables carrying the most pesticides.

Strawberries lead the pack, containing an average of nearly 8 different pesticides per sample–a shocking figure when considering that the average U.S. resident consumes around eight pounds of fresh strawberries per year.

Strawberry growers in regions across the west coast dump vast amounts of pesticides and poisonous gases on fields to make them safe for strawberry cultivation before further exposing crops to fumigation. The use of toxic pesticides in agricultural communities has seen California cities such as Oxnard, Santa Maria and Watsonville face mounting numbers of respiratory disorders, birth defects and illnesses, particularly by farm workers and neighborhoods near the fields.

And while the European Union has banned many of the pesticides used by U.S. strawberry growers, lobbyists from corporations like Dow Chemical Company have ensured that government turns a blind eye to the overuse of carcinogenic pesticides.

The EWG also noted that over “90 percent of samples of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines and kale tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides.”

All nutritional experts and scientists agree that people benefit from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, as well as fresh produce–be it organic or conventional, depending on people’s budgetary constraints.

Yet the continued excessive usage of pesticides–largely by big food manufacturers and growers seeking to minimize costs–has made it difficult for health experts and regulatory bodies to accurately gauge the extent of pesticide exposure in our day-to-day lives, let alone to understand how the combinations of chemicals we’re exposed to can affect our bodies.

EWG research analyst Carla Burns noted:

“The main route of pesticide exposure for most Americans who do not live or work on or near farms is through their diet … Studies have shown that eating fruits and vegetables free of pesticides benefits health, and this is especially important for pregnant women and children.”

Yet the researcher noted that regardless of the grim findings from the EWG study, “the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.”

EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” for 2019 is:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes

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Animals

Scientists Thrilled by Discovery of Rare, Mammoth 400-Year-Old Coral

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A massive 400-year-old hard coral discovered on the Great Barrier Reef has scientists expressing their sense of surprise and excitement.

Named Muga dambhi by the Manbarra people, the Indigenous group who have traditionally taken care of the land, the “exceptionally large” brown and cream-colored coral is located off the coast of Goolboodi or Orpheus Island in the Great Barrier Reef.

It is believed that the coral was spawned some 421 to 438 years ago, meaning that its age predates the arrival of Captain James Cook and the advent of colonization in Australia, notes the Guardian.

The spectacular coral is about 35 feet wide and over 17 feet high, and is double the size of the nearest coral.

Scientists and members of the community participating in a marine science course discovered the specimen earlier this year.

While not the largest coral in the world, the huge find is of major significance to the local ecosystem, according to Adam Smith, an adjunct professor at James Cook University who wrote the field note on the find.

“It’s like a block of apartments,” Smith said. “It attracts other species. There’s other corals, there’s fish, there’s other animals around that use it for shelter or for feeding, so it’s pretty important for them.”

“It’s a bit like finding a giant redwood tree in the middle of a botanic gardens,” he added.

It is likely that the coral hasn’t been discovered for such a long time due to its location in a relatively remote and unvisited portion of a Marine National Park zone that enjoys a high degree of protection.

“Over the last 20 or 30 years, no one has noticed, or observed, or thought it newsworthy enough to share photos, or document, or do research on this giant coral,” Smith said.

The coral is in remarkable condition, with over 70 percent of its surface covered in live coral, coral rock and microalgae. No disease, bleaching or recently deceased coral has been recorded on the specimen.

“The cumulative impact of almost 100 bleaching events and up to 80 major cyclones over a period of four centuries, plus declining nearshore water quality contextualise the high resilience of this Porites coral,” the field note added.

The specific coral has been given the name Muga dhambi, meaning big coral, out of respect for the Indigenous knowledge, language, and culture of the Manbarra Traditional Owners.

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Greenland Ice Washed Away as Summit Sees Rain for First Time in Recorded History

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For the first time in recorded history, torrential downpours of rain have struck Greenland’s icy summit nearly two miles above sea level.

Greenland, an environmentally sensitive island, is typically known for its majestic ice sheet and snowy climate, but this is fast changing due to a massive melt taking place this summer.

However, the typical snowfall has been replaced in recent years not simply by a few showers, but by heavy rainfall. The torrential downpour last week was so huge, in fact, that it washed away a terrifying amount of ice across some 337,000 square miles of the ice shelf’s surface, reports Earther.

Temperatures at the ice shelf had simultaneously warmed to a significant degree, with the summit reaching 33 degrees Fahrenheit – within a degree above freezing and the third time that the shelf has surpassed freezing temperatures this decade.

The fact that rain is falling on ice rather than snow is also significant because it is melting ice across much of southern Greenland, which already saw huge melting events last month, while hastening rising sea levels that threaten to submerge whole coastal cities and communities.

To make matters worse, any new ice formed by the freezing rainwater will not last long. The ice shelf currently existing on Greenland was formed by the compression of snow over innumerable years, which shines bright white and reflects sunlight away rather than absorbing it, as ice from frozen rain does.

The huge scale of the melt and accompanying rainfall illustrate the growing peril of rapidly warming climate conditions across the globe.

“This event by itself does not have a huge impact, but it’s indicative of the increasing extent, duration, and intensity of melting on Greenland,” wrote Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado. “Like the heat wave in the [U.S. Pacific] northwest, it’s something that’s hard to imagine without the influence of global climate change.”

“Greenland, like the rest of the world, is changing,” Scambos told the Washington Post. “We now see three melting events in a decade in Greenland — and before 1990, that happened about once every 150 years. And now rainfall: in an area where rain never fell.”

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South Korean Toilet Turns Poo Into Green Energy and Pays Its Users Digital Cash

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What if your morning #2 not only powered your stove to cook your eggs, but also allowed you to pay for your coffee and pastry on the way to class?

It seems like an absurd question, but one university in South Korea has invented a toilet that allows human excrement to not only be used for clean power, but also dumps a bit of digital currency into your wallet that can be exchanged for some fruit or cup noodles at the campus canteen, reports Reuters.

The BeeVi toilet – short for Bee-Vision – was designed by urban and environmental engineering professor Cho Jae-weon of the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), and is meant to not only save resources but also reward students for their feces.

The toilet is designed to first deliver your excrement into a special underground tank, reducing water use, before microorganisms break the waste down into methane, a clean source of energy that can power the numerous appliances that dorm life requires.

“If we think out of the box, feces has precious value to make energy and manure,” Cho explained. “I have put this value into ecological circulation.”

The toilet can transform approximately a pound of solid human waste – roughly the average amount people poop per day – into some 50 liters of methane gas, said Cho. That’s about enough to generate half a kilowatt hour of electricity, enough to transport a student throughout campus for some of their school day.

Cho has even devised a special virtual currency for the BeeVi toilet called Ggool, or honey in Korean. Users of the toilet can expect to earn 10 Ggool per day, covering some of the many expenses students rack up on campus every day.

Students have given the new system glowing reviews, and don’t even mind discussing their bodily functions at lunchtime – even expressing their hopes to use their fecal credits to purchase books.

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