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Nell Newman's Organic Thanksgiving

By Kathy Oberman Tracy, November/December 2007

How one meal helped launch one of America’s best-loved organic product lines.


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What was the catalyst that made you want to eat organic?

In 1968, when I was 8, I was given a pet kestrel—a sparrow hawk—by our gardener. The hawk sparked my interest in becoming an ornithologist. Within a couple of years ornithologists realized that peregrine falcons were extinct east of the Mississippi due to DDT, and becoming extinct across the rest of the United States. It’s just a shock for a kid to hear that this incredible falcon, which can dive at 200 mph, was disappearing. What is DDT? What is it used for? I would ask.

As a child, it was very difficult for me to understand the effects of mankind on the earth but it really got the whole ball rolling for me. I didn’t know at that age what organic food was but once I found out, I decided that’s what I was going to eat.

What do you see as the main argument for eating organic? Health or the environment?

Well, you can’t separate the two. What you’re spraying on your food has a direct effect on the environment. Pesticides are poisons that kill insects and plants. Number one, you are killing everything in the soil, and two, the pesticides don’t just go away, they go into the water, then the soil and move up the food chain.

One of my biggest concerns is the accumulation of all these poisons and chemicals in our bodies, as we don’t know what their effects are, especially when combined. I had a blood test done about 15 years ago just to see what was there. They found DDT, PCBs and a termite pesticide!



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