Conventional vs Organic Banana Farming – What You Need to Know

 The idea of buying organic produce is a polarizing topic. Depending on who, you talk to you will find people that stand firmly on each side of the debate. But for the average person who is simply trying to live a healthy lifestyle, is buying organic produce really the right move?

The truth is, there are a lot of different factors you need to consider and a lot of the debate surrounding this depends on the type of fruit or vegetable. Today we are going to be focusing in on one fruit, the banana. We will be decoding all the information you need to make an educated decision, but before we jump into that we first need to understand why some produce is more susceptible to chemicals and what the infamous dirty dozen is.

 

What Is The Dirty Dozen?

 Every year the Environmental Working Group, or the EWG, releases a notorious Shoppers Guide that ranks pesticide contamination of 47 popular fruits and vegetables. This started in 2004 and a new addition is released to the public each year. The guide is based on results of more than 40,900 samples of produce tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.

These samples are gathered from produce that is “ready to be eaten”. Meaning this produce has been gathered, washed, and when necessary peeled, just like you would do before eating it in your own home. The list changes from year to year but typically the produce you find on it are thin skinned, like apples or peaches.

The Shoppers Guide is designed to warn you away from certain produce that has tested high for pesticide contamination. This doesn’t mean they are telling you to stop eating these items, simply encouraging you to source them from organic farms (who do not use these chemicals) whenever possible. EWG also release a clean fifteen list that highlights the top 15 conventionally farmed fruits and vegetables that had the lowest traces of pesticides.

How Bad Are Pesticides Really?

 It’s at this point that you might be thinking… well how bad are pesticides for me? If contaminated food is able to be sold, it can’t be that bad right? Unfortunately, the answer is fairly grim and a real concern around the world.  Pesticides are toxic by design. Created for the sole purpose of killing living organisms like insects, pests, or invasive fungi. Already there have been confirmed links (acknowledged by the US and international governments) to pesticides and health risks such as brain and nervous system toxicity, cancer, and hormone disruption.

In 1996 there was a Food Quality Protection Act passed that mandates strong protection for public health. Because of this act the Environmental Protection Agency has restricted the use of many harmful chemicals and toxins. While progress has been made in this area there is still a lot of criticism and a vocal demand for tighter restrictions.

Conventional vs. Organic Banana Farming

To truly educate yourself on the benefits of eating organically and avoiding pesticides we need to take a look at the difference between conventional and organic farming practices. For this example, we are going to be focusing in on banana farming, since it is a fruit that typically doesn’t make the dirty dozen or the clean fifteen. It falls somewhere in the middle. Let’s take a look at the effects these farming methods have on the consumer, the social ramifications, and the environmental impact.

 Consumer Impact

 We have already determined that pesticides aren’t good for you, but in the case the banana with it’s peelable outer layer is it possible it acts as a barrier between the fruit and the toxins? Well… no, not really.

That is because the pesticides used in conventional farming are already in the soil that the bananas are grown from. Meaning traces of the chemicals are imbedded in every part of the fruit, from peel to core. Since organic farmers use natural fertilizers like manure and seaweed, and rely on insect predators rather than pesticides to keep pests at bay you won’t be ingesting anything harmful.

Social Impact

Conventionally farmed bananas are sprayed with synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and many other harmful chemicals. This leaves a lasting effect on the food once it reaches the consumer, but it also has a dramatic and sometimes fatal effect on the workers and the communities that surround the farms. These workers are being directly exposed to dangerous chemicals and there have been many cases of skin diseases and kidney failure as a result. In 2007 five banana workers won a 2.5million dollar lawsuit when they proved that working with these harsh chemicals gave them lasting health issues.

On organic farms both the safety of the customer, the workers, and the community are put less at risk because the natural materials they are working with are not harmful. There is no exposure to harsh chemicals and no risk of future health issues.

Environmental Impact

Organic farming has been proven time and time again to be better for the environment. This also links back to the harmful pesticides used in conventional farming. In conventional banana farming practices, fertilizers and pesticides make their way into the soil and water and eventually, the ocean. These contaminants in our waterways are leading to ocean dead zones and blue-green algae blooms that are so dense they can be fatal to marine animals and humans. Organic banana farming practices eliminate these problems by using organic fertilizers and methods.

When you really look into the difference between conventional and organic farming there are clear health, social, and environmental benefits to shopping organically. At Organics Unlimited we are dedicated to providing the best quality organic bananas and tropical fruits in a socially responsible way. Our produce is closely monitored throughout our entire growing process from harvesting to distribution. We make sure that the fruit we provide meets our high standards and our organic certification requirements at all stages. We work continually with our growers to help them in managing their farms and educating them on the best techniques for safety and quality.

 

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