EWG warns of pesticides, local farm pesticide free

EWG warns of pesticide effects

ANTHONY, New Mexico - At Anthony Youth Farm in southern New Mexico produce is grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers. The land is a partnership between the Anthony Water and Sanitation District and the American Friends Service Committee New Mexico.

Yvonne Diaz went through the partnership's farmer-to-farmer program. She believes it's important to know what's in a person's food as well and how it is grown. There's natural options instead of using harmful pesticides, such as fish oils or castile soaps, Diaz said.

"We also do a diverse crop so that helps control the bug population as well," Diaz said about how crops are capable of growing without pesticides in Anthony.

Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit public health organization, compiles lists known as the "dirty dozen" and "clean 15" published in a shopper's guide. Rankings are based on analysis of 32,000 samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the federal Food and Drug Administration.

Top five dirty in terms of the amount of pesticides are apples, strawberries, grapes, celery and peaches. EWG recommends buying organic when possible.

Top clean are avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage and frozen sweet peas.

EWG Senior Analyst Sonya Lunder says recent studies of American children show that high exposure to pesticides and residue can be toxic to humans.

"Their brain and nervous system have been altered, they test lower and sometimes they even have lower IQ levels," Lunder said.

Diaz is grateful to be growing healthier produce that stays local, and she enjoys it herself.

The produce grown at AYF is sold at farmers' markets in El Paso and Las Cruces. Local restaurants also buy the vegetables and occasional fruit. The farm will soon begin a community supported agriculture program, more commonly known as CSA, to make the produce more available to the public.

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