At the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, I came across this silkscreen print by artist Ester Hernandez, brilliantly portraying the deception of health food marketing. The artist produced the silkscreen in 1982 to address the unfair wages and poor working conditions, particularly exposure to toxic chemicals, of the Mexican migrant workers harvesting grapes in the San Joaquin Valley, California.
Coincidentally, just a few days before seeing this print, I learned to my horror that my daughter’s school, which has a strict organic food policy, were serving Sun Maid raisins to the kids as a snack. I don’t usually eat raisins as they are high in fructose (I would rather save my sweet treat for something more delicious), they get stuck in your teeth and can cause cavities. However, I would never go near non-organic raisins such as Sun Maid raisins, as grapes are one of the fruits with the highest number of different pesticide residues. According to the Environmental Working Group and their latest 2014 data on pesticides in produce, a single grape contains 15 pesticides.
The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report stating that children have unique susceptibilities to [pesticides’] potential toxicity. They cited evidence demonstrating associations between early life exposure to pesticides and paediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioural problems.¹
1. American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Environmental Health. Pesticide Exposure in Children. Available from http://www.aap.org. [26 November 2012].