Pesticides and PR
From 1995

A Guide to Pesticides
in Fruits and Vegetables

Lawrie Mott and
Karen Snyder
(Sierra Club)
You don't want to read this one. Not only will it make your hair curl --- it might make it fall out. Twenty-five or so of our favorite fruits and vegetables listed, along with a description of the most common pesticides discovered on or in them.

For example, strawberries show pesticide residues in 63% of the samples taken from supermarkets. Over half of the celery tested showed detectable chemicals, including Chlorothalonil which can have "chronic health effects including kidney, thyroid, stomach and liver changes." Then there's Acephate (Orthene) which showed "reproductive toxicity in one animal study." Can these chemicals be washed out? Yes, for Dicloran, Ethanox, TBZ; no, for Methamidophos, Methomyl, Phosdrin.

What's so scary is that all of our favorite, healthgiving fruits and vegetables are included --- Spinach, Carrots, Green Beans, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Corn.

What's even more scary are the figures on contamination of imported produce (30 percent of domestic samples of cucumber showed residues; 80 percent of imported ones were contaminated). The problem is an addiction, the addiction to pesticides on the part of the consumer (as well as the producer) --- because we demand pretty peaches and spotless bell peppers.

What to do? Grow your own. Bitch at the EPA (but not too hard --- in any one year, we give them as much money as it costs to build three Sidewinder missiles). Best of all --- find sellers of organic food: all the states in the far west, along with Massachusetts, Maine, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Montana have "strict definitions of what can be called organic food."

Confessions of
A PR Man
Robert J. Wood
We once had this vision of the PR man hired on in 1938 to explain to the denizens of the city of Auschwitz why they were going to have all this ugly construction work going on in their neighborhood. "Don't worry," he says, speaking before the regular monthly luncheon meeting of the Auschwitz Chamber of Commerce, "We're going to bring in over six million marks in local construction --- carpentry, cement, wiring, fencing, and towers. Add 1,000 guards, officers, and clerical help on the permanent labor force. We're talkin' jobs." And the members of the Auschwitz Better Business Bureau look around and nod their heads and vote to give backing to this newest project as they think of the Deutschmarks pouring in.

Now, we'd be the last to make any parallels between this and the various works of Robert J. Wood with his Byoir PR firm over the last thirty years --- but he does lay some unlikely strutting on us in this roman à thèse. Northeast Utilities wants to build a nuclear plant, and the neighbors don't dig it. Turn it over to Woods. He proves to those nervous nellies that radiation is no worse than slutswool under the bed; soon enough everyone wants their own nuclear plant there next to the backyard barbecue.

An "atomic radiation center" scheduled for construction by CIT Corp in Ohio? No prob, babe. Woods has these heavy-weight friends on the AEC, they'll pull some strings --- the radiation center gets built, and the citizens just love it. That bastard Jesse Jackson giving you a fit at the A & P, with his Operation Breadbasket? No worry --- a few meetings with some friendly newspaper folks, a couple of arrests (complaints signed by a front man, not the Atlantic & Pacific), executives never at home when those cats come calling --- and A & P is out of the woods.

Finally, there's that Hyatt Regency in Kansas City, you remember, the one owned by Hallmark Cards, the one where the suspended walkway collapses, killing a hundred people, injuring two hundred more. Bad press for Hallmark? Not to worry: Woods is on the job. When the carping critics start in on the sin of cheap construction and corporate profits, we take it right on the chin:

I assigned a Byoir staffer to work in Kansas City full time, dealing with the daily PR problems that kept cropping up as a result of the investigations, the lawsuits, and related matters. These were mostly minor matters.

Mostly minor. Got a problem with death, dismemberment, crippled-for-life, personal trauma, physical ruination. No prob. Just call on Woods, the PR man's PR man. He'll take care of anything and everything. For no more than a little blood money.

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