Environmentalist Scare Tactics Lead to Poor Food Choices
By Luis Alvarado
President of Familias Unidas de California
California is blessed with the most diverse, fresh, safe and nutritional produce in the world. Yet, it is heartbreaking that our Latino population suffers from higher than normal rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
These health concerns stem largely in food choices we make.
Across America, only 1 in 10 people of any race eat the recommended daily amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
This number is even worse for Latinos.
For many Latinos living in impoverished urban and remote rural areas, access to fresh produce is difficult. More than a million Californians live in food deserts, largely due to the lack of grocery stores, farmer’s markets and healthy food providers.
Another less talked factor is fear-mongering campaigns by environmentalists.
Every year the Environmental Working Group promotes a list of what they call the “Dirty Dozen,” in an effort to push individuals into only buying more expensive organic food. Despite the continued lack of peer reviewed science and credible evidence, these campaigns cause a tremendous amount of confusion in our Latino community.
The Illinois Institute of Technology’s Center for Nutrition Research, published a report in the peer reviewed Nutrition Today that, EWG’s messaging which inaccurately describes certain fruits and vegetables as having “higher” pesticide residues results in low income shoppers reporting that they would be less likely to purchase any fruits and vegetables – organic or non-organic.
The researchers surveyed 510 low-income Chicago consumers to learn more about what terms and information about fruits and vegetables may influence their shopping intentions.
Dr. Britt Burton-Freeman, Associate Professor of Food Science and Nutrition, IIT’s Center for Nutrition Research said, “we were surprised to see how informational content that named specific fruits and vegetables as having the highest pesticide residues increased the percentage of shoppers who said they would be unlikely to purchase any type of fruits and vegetables.”
It’s time to end the fear-mongering food campaigns that push Latinos away from conventionally grown produce; instead, we should be focusing on how to better provide more nutritious food options for our Latino community.
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