It is difficult to believe that billions of people are still alive after numerous digestive encounters with some of the deadliest of creatures on this earth.

The deadly creatures are peaches, nectarines, apples, cherries, tomatoes, and a whole host of other fruits and vegetables I thought for 65 years were healthy. It is amazing I am still alive.

I learned about all these terrible food items — celery, strawberries, lettuce, bell peppers, etc. — after reading an article in the San Jose Mercury News, which reported shoppers “convinced organic foods are the safer choice foods can find themselves buying conventional produce instead, in a bid to control their relentlessly growing grocery bills.”

To help those poor souls who don’t have enough money to buy organics, readers were directed to the Organic Center, one of those “non-profit” organizations who look out for you and me, whether we want them to or not. This one “generates peer-reviewed scientific research and information ... on the benefits of organic food.” This group has published a pocket guide of domestic and imported “conventional” fruits and vegetables that pose the “greatest risk for toxic pesticide exposure.”

The guide — which is about as thick as a pocket slit — is similar to one produced by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) based on USDA and FDA tests for pesticides on produce.

The bad food list is endless. Fortunately, these two “watchdog groups” also provide a list of “lowest incidences of pesticides” so people will not starve avoiding cantaloupes, broccoli, bell peppers, potatoes, peas and green beans. Those with the least toxic pesticides on them are onions, avocados, frozen sweet corn, pineapples, mangos, frozen sweet peas, asparagus, kiwis, bananas and cabbage.

For an organization that espouses peer-review scientific information, the Organic Center two-page “Organic Essentials ... pocket guide to reducing pesticide dietary exposure” is void of scientific substantiation — just like the article stating as fact that people who buy organic food may be forced to buy conventionally produced food.

There is zero attribution to the facts stated other than the reference to food guides from the Organic Center and EWG. It is difficult to understand how something like that got into print. It is likely the writer’s opinion — nothing more.

In the Seattle area, a county government program removed a similar guide from its Web site.

According to an AP article, the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program — a coalition of health and hazardous-materials agencies from King County, Seattle and 38 neighboring communities — pulled the information from its Web site early this month and said it would stop printing a wallet-sized card describing it.

The design of the card listing the implied high pesticide produce is “flawed,” said Jay Watson, program administrator. “The information was oversimplified. It doesn’t address the scientific uncertainty (of pesticides),” she said.

Heather Hanson, executive director of the Washington Friends of Farms and Forests that lobbied to get the card and Web site availability rescinded, said the consumer guide was “misleading” and “harmed local farmers by saying you shouldn’t buy apples and pears and peaches and cherries — all leading crops in Washington. It says, ‘Don’t eat locally grown stuff. Eat mangos and bananas.’” The same thing is on the Organic Center card.

“The role of USDA and FDA is to tell people to have a healthy diet and that’s not what this card does,” the article said. “The government has the responsibility to regulate everything in such a way that food is safe, and I don’t think that card contributes to food safety in any way, shape or form.”

Organic crops are part of commercial, large-scale agriculture. Long successful, commercial farmers are growing organic crops because there is a market segment willing to buy to satisfy its “philosophical” appetite. And that is okay. However, I know of no producer who grows organic and so-called “conventional” crops who would not serve their families food from either part of their operation.

To say certain foods are higher in toxic pesticides than others without fact is certainly deceptive and I believe libelous. Government officials in Seattle should be applauded for what they did and others should follow their lead and challenge this garbage.

email: hcline@farmpress.com