Saturday, June 4, 2016

FitBit or TwitBit? Bad Science that Hurts Family Farmers

I'm always sensitive to which food and fitness companies abandon science and peddle woo.  I'm sad to say that FitBit has a blog post that promotes the Environmental Working Groups "Dirty Dozen".  The "Dirty Dozen" is this activist group's annual attack on specific fruit and vegetable industries, perpetrated to scare people into organic produce. 

FitBit nutrition editor Becky Duffett completely drops the ball on this one and makes an indictment of an industry based on a fancy activist website, and ignores simple facts.  Instead of consulting scientists and farmers that work with strawberry and know the facts, she takes an activist group's word that conventional strawberries are toxic nuggets of death and should never be eaten. 

FitBit falls for the "Dirty Dozen" ruse without any critical analysis, making statements that harm American specialty crop farmers. 

The author reiterates the EWG claim that, "98 percent (of strawberries) had detectable pesticide residues, 40 percent had residues from 10 or more pesticides and some had residues from up to 17 different pesticides."

First of all, what does "detected" mean?  We can measure levels that are tens of thousands, millions, billions of times below any toxicity thresholds.  Just because it is there on the edge of detection does not mean it is harmful. 

Furthermore, strawberry farmers do not use ten, let alone seventeen different pesticides. A phone call to a strawberry farmer, grower organization, or university plant pathologist would have sorted that out. 

You can listen to my interview with Dr. Natalia Peres on this very topic here. (starts at 30 minutes) 

The bottom line is that while strawberries are a fungicide-intensive crop, they are applied at safe levels for human consumption and are used sparingly.  The website advises farmers when conditions are most conducive to fungal outbreaks and they apply fungicides only at those times.  Thanks to such tools fungicide use is extremely low.  Ag chemicals are expensive, and farmers use them only to save a crop from a pathogen. 

I eat them right out of the field without even washing them. Of course, you always should wash your produce.  Sometimes you're in the middle of the field, the aroma is awesome, and you just gotta...

And the article discusses the other "dirty" eleven, and in fairness does mention what EWG considers "clean".  What a crock. 

This is troublesome because FitBit produces fitness tools that should be science based.  When they promote bogus claims about health and food, it gives me pause that I can trust any of their concepts or products.

For the record, I did once own a FitBit.  The band was trash, I lost it, and bought a Garmin that I really like.