What are the Effects of Chemical Gardening and Agriculture?

Posted on Jun 8 2011 - 2:50am by Mike Lieberman

When people ask why they should grow their own food, one of the top reasons I give is because of the chemicals and pesticides that are used to treat our food.

Just because you are growing your own, doesn’t mean that you aren’t using chemicals and the toxic crap like Miracle Grow, but it means that you have more control over it.

Yes the pesticides might be getting rid of the pests and insects, but what else are they doing?

You don’t rinse off chemicals
It’s not as simple as using some water and washing the item off. My grandmother used to (and still does) tell me to do that. Ok, Gram I’m just going to wash off the chemicals that have been sprayed with a quick rinse under the water?!??

Chemicals don’t make sense
Using chemicals and pesticides to treat the produce just doesn’t make sense to me on any level. I don’t want that stuff on my food and getting into my body. Would you take a bottle of chemicals and just chug them? So why would you eat them?

If you look at our society and the health problems that we are facing, then look at the increase use of these toxins over the years, there is a heavy correlation. Just sayin.

Organic Manifesto
I’ve started to read the book Organic Manifesto by Maria Rodale and here are some interesting things I’ve learned:

  • More than 80,000 new chemical compounds have been introduced since World War II. Many of which are now used in agriculture.
  • To feed our demand for cheap food, we’ve put ourselves and our children’s lives at risk.
  • In the animal world, alligator’s penises are shrinking. This can be tied to increased pesticide usage.

Those are just a few things that I’ve pulled from the book early on and it’s some serious shit to be thinking about. The food that we are eating and the way that it’s being grown is having a serious effect on us and the animal kingdom.

In the past 100 or so years, we have bombarded our bodies with all these new toxins and it’s not sure how to react.

There is an alligator waddling around somewhere right now with a small penis because of you. New abnormalities in humans are emerging as well.

You have the control
By growing your own or sourcing your food from farmers markets, you can control of or can ask the grower directly how the food is treated.

If you are using a product, find out what the ingredients are and don’t just read the marketing hype on the label. It’s your health that’s at stake.

Step away from the chemical gardening and chemically produced foods.

What’s your thoughts on chemical use in gardening and agriculture?


45 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Jecka June 8, 2011 at 11:41 am -

    While I totally agree that going back to basics with gardening (just soil, water, sunlight, and a little TLC is all a garden needs!) I’ll never agree with basic, rudimentary “correlations” between increases in certain health issues and pesticide use. It’s like saying that the reason why the number of obese people in the US has grown over the same time frame as increased pesticide use is because of the pesticides. Or the number of Vietnamese immigrating to the central US has increased exponentially over the same time frame, so it must be because of pesticide use. In my opinion, the reason we get sicker is from over-medicating (I loathe the overuse of hand sanitizer!!) and diseases getting smarter, as well as an increase in laziness (both of which are scientifically proven).

    However, again, I totally agree that going back to basics with gardening is essential to growing great foods! And, no, it’s not as simple as just washing off chemicals!!

  2. Sstreicher June 8, 2011 at 12:17 pm -

    Can you educate us more about Miracle Gro and the problems with it?  I haven’t heard anything about this on other organic/healthy blogs I follow until you first mentioned you wouldn’t have them as a sponsor.  And what do you suggest using instead of their soil?  Thanks.

  3. Mike Lieberman June 8, 2011 at 1:35 pm -

    You can also argue that the diseases are getting smarter because they are getting resistant to the pesticides and antibiotics that we are ingesting (from animals that are being jacked up on them) that we are ingesting and becoming resistant to. 

    There is no way that anyone can convince me that using and ingesting pesticides can be good for us in any way shape or form. 

  4. Mike Lieberman June 8, 2011 at 1:49 pm -

    The basic problem with Miracle Grow is that it is owned by the company Scotts who is the sole provider of Round-Up which is the only spray that can be used on genetically modified crops.

    Since they are tied to Monsanto, there is no way that I could support them. 

    Also most of their stuff is loaded up with synthetics and toxic garbage. Nothing that I want near anywhere close to my food. 

    Their “organic choice” line is just a marketing loophole that they can use as the product isn’t certified organic in anyway shape or form.

  5. Mike Lieberman June 8, 2011 at 1:49 pm -

    It’s all so crazy. Thanks for sharing that info with us.

  6. Cherise June 8, 2011 at 5:13 pm -

    This is something that I am currently struggling with. I’ve had a large garden (several 1000 sq ft) for about 10 years, the last two of which I have planted only heirloom plants. However, being that it is so large, it is very expensive for me to amend ALL the soil that I plant in. This year I have added compost to the planting areas but it clearly isn’t enough to make much of a difference. My tomatoes are struggling as are my carrots, rutabagas and most everything. I plan on adding in much more compost in the fall but I need to get through this year with a descent harvest or all my work is for nothing. I don’t want to buy all my fresh produce, even at my local market. SO, that being said, I confess, I broke down yesterday and bought Miracle Gro. Yes, I did it. I felt sick with the purchase but watering everything this morning made me feel like I was feeding starving children. I mean, I’d love to feed those little “kids” organic, natural everything but all I have time and money for right now is Twinkies. Thoughts on this? I would LOVE to move to all organic or at least natural, but how do I do that with such a huge space? Thanks!

  7. Mike Lieberman June 8, 2011 at 5:19 pm -

    I hear ya. Can def be overwhelming. Some thoughts – can you make your own compost? Where do you live are their resources in your area that you can get free compost? Horse stables or farms nearby that you can get free manure from? What kind of budget are you working with? There are certainly ways, just gotta get creative and put some thought to it. People didn’t have all the chemicals years ago and didn’t use chemicals, so surely there is a way.

    Keep me updated.

  8. Mike Lieberman June 8, 2011 at 5:21 pm -

    Thanks for the info Veronica.

  9. Mike Lieberman June 8, 2011 at 5:22 pm -

    Word. Great info. Thanks!

  10. Vincent Jaconski June 8, 2011 at 5:39 pm -

    What soil do you use

  11. Faeriewhale June 8, 2011 at 6:39 pm -

    Do you have a list somewhere on here of all the gardening companies, and such, that ARE affiliated with Monsanto? That would be helpful information for me.

  12. Joy June 8, 2011 at 6:47 pm -

    The city I live in collects food waste from residential homes and composts it. It then gives it out free to it’s citizens. For a gardener on a small budget (like me), it’s awesome!

  13. Cherise June 8, 2011 at 8:30 pm -

    I started a serious compost pile this year. Not the half way attempt I’ve done the last couple years. I have one 4×4 square and have pallets to add two more. Also, we have a mushroom company nearby where I get trailer loads (pick up truck bed amount) for $25 each. This year we got 3 loads before I ran out of time and had to start planting. The problem I’ve found with that is that it hasn’t “burned out” quite enough and it’s very chunky and light. Not dark and rich like it will be in a year. My thought is to get two loads in the fall and let it age over winter. Once upon a time I used have horses of my own – that’s when I had all the manure I could ever want, in every stage of compost that I needed. My goal is to learn a lot more this year, with more specifics to avoid any chemicals next year. It just becomes overwhelming in the middle of planting and harvesting. I also found a site that listed weights of three natural components for a 10-10-10 fertilizer. Have to track down those items and mix them up to use in the future. Oh, and the budget is tight. One of the main reasons I started growing and preserving our own food. Thanks for the thoughts. Nice to know I’m on the right track. : )

  14. Mike Lieberman June 8, 2011 at 10:21 pm -

    I’m currently using soil from Whole Foods which I don’t love. I am eventually going to replace it with this potting mix from my local hydroponics store. It has bat guano, worm casting, fish stuffs and the like in it. Not sure of the exact name off the top of my head.

    I’m working to align myself with some decent soil companies.

  15. Mike Lieberman June 8, 2011 at 10:22 pm -

    It’s something that I’m working on compiling. Garden companies and associations that are in bed with Monsanto.

  16. Mary C. June 8, 2011 at 10:34 pm -

    OH CRAP I didn’t know about the Round-Up/Monsanto connection or the organic choice certification! Thanks

    Must go home and sequester some things for S.A.F.E. disposal….

  17. Mary C. June 8, 2011 at 10:36 pm -

    You can make a compost tea to fertilizer your babies. Also check out Kellogg organic fertilizers, I like them so far and not too pricey as a supplement.

  18. Mary C. June 8, 2011 at 10:37 pm -

    The most I learn and think, the less I like chemicals for anything – pests, fertilizer, cleaning products, shampoo, furniture, etc. I am trying to slowly but surely get as much as possible out of my life.

    I see you care so very much about the alligators ;9

  19. Mike Lieberman June 8, 2011 at 10:47 pm -

    Word. Get on that. Here’s an article on the “organic choice” labeling.


  20. Katherine Kelley June 8, 2011 at 11:11 pm -

    I definitely agree with the idea that pesticides cause long term human problems.  I grew up on a small farm in a very rural area.  Crop dusters were common and most kids would go outside to see the pilots in action.  In my twenties I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.  After doing a lot of research I found out that it is only prevalent in highly developed countries.  To me, that translated to countries who heavily use chemicals both in the growing and processing of food.  It took a while, but now I eat a mostly organic diet, most of it grown myself or by a farmer up the road who farms organically even though they don’t have the costly certification.  Is it easy to make the choice everyday?  No.  But my disease isn’t really progressing, though it will never go away.  So I see removal of chemicals from my food and my environment as part of long term health management.  It just makes good sense.  I also talk to parents of my students with attention issues about how diet can affect the behavior of students.  I’m no scientist, but when parents have changed the kids’ diets, informal observation  has shown a happier, healthier child, who while focused, have even more energy than before that gives them the stamina to make it through the day without meltdowns.  The thing that is crazy to me is that we are finally really seeing what the long term use of these chemicals can do to us, but some people want to stick their heads in the sand.  No thank you.  I want to see things clearly, and I want our gov’t to make that easier instead of hiding behind smoke and mirrors supporting the very people who are contaminating our food supply.

  21. Jen Knapp June 8, 2011 at 11:26 pm -

    Mike, have you read Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson? It was written in the early sixties, and had a large role in the banning of DDT. Anyway, I am reading it right now, and it is scary how many observations she is noting back in the sixties! I just can’t imagine how much worse it is now…

  22. Mike Lieberman June 8, 2011 at 11:29 pm -

    C’mon gotta feel for the alligators. I’d recommend reading Organic Manifesto. It’s pretty interesting and has lots of good information.

  23. Mike Lieberman June 8, 2011 at 11:31 pm -

    Sorry to hear about your disease and thanks for sharing your experience with me. 

    We gotta not only educate ourselves, but those around and close to us as well. Companies and government have made it very easy to live the chemical life and we are the ones suffering for it. We are also the ones that have the power to control it as well.

  24. Mike Lieberman June 8, 2011 at 11:34 pm -

    I have read it. Pretty crazy stuff.

  25. Mike Lieberman June 9, 2011 at 3:25 am -

    Great info. Digging compost trenches too.

  26. Mike Lieberman June 9, 2011 at 3:25 am -

    Thanks for the links, but the discussion isn’t coming up.

  27. Dawn Mischler June 9, 2011 at 4:30 am -

    YIKES!    long-term studies…at the University of Wisconsin have shown that chemical fertilizers are causing serious, permanent damage to our soils. Usually these fertilizers are also highly soluble, so they leach away and pollute our water systems.  So…why would you want to put it on your growing food?  Use grass clippings, leaves, animal waste, compost, mulch…whatever, but skip the fertilizer for your own health.  I would add that we do not use the city water for our potted friends(anyone remember the drinking water scare from Milwaukee from the 1993 Cryptosporidium  outbreak?)..but travel to the lower Kettle Moraine area to load up on spring water from a natural spring for our drinking/garden water.  We are not able to have a compost pile where our apt. is in Milwaukee, but have a friend that owns a hobby farm.  SO we travel there once a month to glean horse apples, straw, and clippings for our little potted gardens.  Stay away from the fertilizer stuff!

  28. Mike Lieberman June 9, 2011 at 1:38 pm -

    That’s some dedication. Good for you that you get it done, but sad that that is what you have to go through to get it done. 

  29. Alice Lincoln June 9, 2011 at 1:59 pm -

    Try the trench method of amending soil: Where is the row/ set going to be; dig a trench 12 inches wide by 6 or more inches deep (approx.) Mix amendments into soil removed.  Layer dead grass, manure,leaves, or whatever into bottom of trench or bed. Add some aged manure if you have it – this is a “sponge” to catch and hold water.  Put amended soil back into trench/plot, hilling it up (mini raised beds), place ‘walls’ to hold soil in place if wished.  Place 2 rows back to back with a shallow trench (6 to 12 inches wide by 6 to 12 inches deep) between them – this trench is filled with compost/dead grass/manure/whatever, and is where any fertilizer and water is applied.  Much easier and more economical than wasting amendmants on walkways and weeds.

  30. Mike Lieberman June 9, 2011 at 2:08 pm -

    I think I’m gonna give this a go. Love the idea.

  31. Alice Lincoln June 9, 2011 at 2:11 pm -

    Add powdered hot pepper to your list for getting rid of snails/ slugs, toads, and neighbors dogs/cats.  Renew as needed.  Use powder, or make teas. Powder works best for me against neighbor’s dogs – sniff, sneeze, goes away!!

  32. Dawn Mischler June 9, 2011 at 4:39 pm -

    Meh…it’s okay.  I do not want to drink the city water and the drive/hike is great to get the water.  We also save rain water for our pots and pails of food.  I side with you that we have to take these kind of specific actions in order to find things that are less infected w/chemicals.   

  33. Mike Lieberman June 9, 2011 at 9:26 pm -

    I’ve read that it does get sucked up by the fruit/veggie. Can’t recall where I read that though.

  34. Mike Lieberman June 10, 2011 at 1:55 pm -

    Thanks Juanita. I’m with you. We only have a limited time here and want to get the most out of it and leave it in good condition for those who follow. Appreciate what you do.

  35. 1114organic June 25, 2011 at 3:33 pm -

    Not having chemicals in my food does make the top of the long list of why we grow our own food.  It is amazing how many chemicals there are out there and no one really knows the full extent of their damage.

  36. Mike Lieberman June 27, 2011 at 6:05 am -

    Exactly and I don’t want to be the lab experiment to find out.

  37. Anonymous August 16, 2011 at 5:44 am -

    No doubt chemicals are a huge problem, as a cancer survivor all that stuff scares the heck out of me….

    But almost anything humans do is destructive.

    The cry for “sustainable” agriculturally based fuels that are annuals, whether organic or not,  is a disaster is the making.
    Humans depend too much of annuals crops rather than perennials for their food and other needs.

    From the magazine AcresUSA, emphasis added……

    “An acre of soil measured to a depth of one foot weighs approximately 4 million pounds, which means that 1 percent organic matter in the soil would weigh about 40,000 pounds per acre and contain roughly 20,000 pounds of carbon. Since it takes at least 10 pounds of organic material to decompose to one pound of organic matter roughly it takes at least 400,000 pounds (200 tons) of organic material applied or returned to the soil to add 1 percent stable organic matter (40,000 pounds) under favorable conditions.
    How much has been lost? Research indicates that organic matter content in prairie regions of the United States and Canada have declined between 50 and 90 percent since the land was first cultivated. Let’s look at an example. Due to organic matter converting to carbon dioxide, the organic matter in a top foot of soil on a conventionally managed Iowa cornfield has decreased from 10 percent to 5 percent. How much soil carbon has been lost? How much CO2 has been released into the atmosphere? A reduction of 5 percent organic matter equals 50 tons of soil carbon (100,000 pounds) lost to the atmosphere. When oxidized, this 50 tons of carbon is equal to over 180 tons of atmospheric carbon released from a single acre! There are millions of acres of farmland in the United States that have seen at least a 5 percent decline in total soil organic matter content due to conventional farming practices.”



  38. Mike Lieberman August 16, 2011 at 2:17 pm -

    True, but would it be better to lessen a destructive impact or to cut the impact out all together?

  39. Moja Mujaden October 24, 2011 at 4:34 pm -

    i’m an orchid collector and i was so heavy on  synthetic pesticides, fungicides and ferts a few years ago. I don’t even wear masks or gloves to protect myself from those chemicals and i would even use my hands to stir in a pail of water the pesticides that i use.  And i believe, that my allerghic rhinitis and some chronic ailments have developed because of my use of the said chemicals. Nowadays, im trying to achieve a natural garden where plants are use to invite beneficial insects. I use natural means or whatever is available in my surroundings like peppers, beer, bleach, cinnamon, betadine etc to treat plant infections.  I am no longer using synthetic pesticides and i am eventually veering away from using synthetic ferts. Sometimes, i mix  organic and synthetic ferts but again no pesticides/fungicides. Whenever i see centipedes, scropions, i don’t kill them i just let them go in my garden but of course, im always on guard.

  40. Mike Lieberman October 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm -

    Sorry to hear about your experience, but glad that you are doing well and doing the best that you can. Keep up the great work.

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.