More Balance Inserted Into Pesticide Residue Reporting

6/25/2012 11:39 AM


Last week, the Environmental Working Group predictably released its 2012 “Dirty Dozen” list. But, this year there was a big difference – much less coverage from major media outlets and much more balance when the list was covered.  Some key examples of balanced coverage came from  National Public Radio's food blog,  Food Safety News and the Chicago Sun Times.

But, one of our favorites came from Editor Pamela Riemenschneider of Produce Retailer.  Ms. Riemenschneider posted a simple question on an online Facebook forum for moms as part of her story.  She asked:  “If it’s on the Dirty Dozen list and you can’t find it in organic do you:  Skip it entirely,  Buy conventional or I don’t care about the Dirty Dozen”  The findings according to Riemenschneider, “The majority of my mom friends said they’d skip it entirely, which is troubling to me – and the produce industry.”

Yes, very troubling.  Especially when a formal and professional survey conducted by the Alliance for Food and Farming had similarly concerning findings with almost 10% of low income consumers stating they would reduce consumption of certain fruits and veggies after hearing statements from EWG about the Dirty Dozen list (see our new report Scared Fat to see complete survey results).  It should be noted that Riemenschneider also did an informal shopping experiment and found that purchasing all the items on the Dirty Dozen list cost 65% more than the conventional counterparts – another concerning statistic for low income consumers.   

Of course, there were still some typical one-sided stories that only carried the inflammatory list messages and we’ll be using those stories in the future to further illustrate the findings in the Scared Fat report.

But, we are hopeful that some of the information, reports and press releases recently issued by the Alliance and found on this website contributed to an increase in balanced reporting and a decrease in coverage by major media.  And, the Alliance remains committed to continuing these efforts to provide more information about the safety of organic and conventionally grown produce to help consumers make educated shopping decisions as well as reduce fear as a barrier to consumption.   

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