Why We Don't Use Chemicals on Our Garlic
By Susan Fluegel, PHD
At Grey Duck Garlic we don't use any chemicals, herbicides or pesticides on our garlic. We believe that growing crops naturally is better for us and the environment. If we don't want it on our food we are not going to spray it on our crops!
Picture: Garlic clove with butterfly (Satyr Angelwing).
It is more work to grow organically (we used to weed 3/4 of an acre of garlic by hand) but it is worth it. We have a field full of garlic, raspberries, blueberries and wildlife of all kinds. Not spraying helps protect beneficial insects and pollinators.
Pesticides Can Poison People:
71,000 children were involved in common household pesticide-related poisonings or exposures in the United States in 2004 (data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers). No little ones at home? You aren't off the hook, 13% of all poisonings occur in a home that is not the child's own home!
Picture: A hardneck garlic scape attracts a friendly ladybug. Encouraging predator insects in your garden will reduce pest insects like aphids.
1-3% of farm laborers worldwide will develop acute pesticide poisoning (data from the World Health Organization). Many of those effected are adolescents.
1 billion pounds of pesticides are applied in the US, and 4 billion pounds of pesticides are applied world wide. That is a lot of toxins.
Benefits of Farming Organically
No worries about children, grandchildren and pets being exposed to potentially dangerous chemicals. Pesticides have the same mode of action in pets and people that they do in insects. Many pesticides target the body's energy and/or nervous systems. These systems are essentially the same in you and in an aphid; the only difference is that you are larger. Pesticides either shut down energy production or disrupt nerve transmissions. This causes the insects to die.
Pesticide exposure can be accumulated in body fat and can build up over time. Some people and pets are much more sensitive to pesticide exposure than others.
Just having pesticides on your farm or in your house increases the chance that a curious young'um will take a sip. In the US most accidental pesticide poisonings are young children who take a exploratory drink from that dusty bottle on the shed shelf.
Even if you don't have any small children, please go through your home and yard and dispose of any unknown or old chemicals at your communities's hazardous waste drop off site! Lock up any poisonous items you wish to keep in order to keep little ones safe.
You protect honeybees (see our article on colony collapse) and bumblebees. Who doesn't want to help out the bees that provide so much of our food through pollination. Since most people don't want to pat the buzzy little hummers on the back for a job well done, the least we can do is help protect their environment.
You prevent your food, soil, water and air from being contaminated with toxic chemicals (and for that Mother Nature thanks you!) In addition, you safeguard the environment for future generations.
Your yard or farm is a safe sanctuary for wildlife, insects and native plants. For more on making your yard a wildlife sanctuary see our how to attract wildlife page.