Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Bee and dandelions. Jean English photo
English photo

By Jean English
Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener

“Bees don’t have a choice about where they land,” said MOFGA board member Eli Berry while chatting with me at a MOFGA fundraiser this summer. We were lamenting the excessive use of pesticides, including glyphosate – the active ingredient in Roundup and some other herbicides. His comment summarized perfectly the unjust effects of pesticides on nontarget organisms.

Some kids don’t have a choice about where they land, either. Studies have found that women with greater exposure to organophosphate pesticides during pregnancy were more likely to have children with neurodevelopmental disorders. This and other news items (not all dismal) are posted at

Many farmworkers don’t have a choice. A September 2018 report from The Organic Center notes that farmworkers are at greatest risk for exposure to agricultural pesticides and to the adverse health impacts of that exposure.

The list continues and includes landscape workers who don’t have a choice about the pesticides they’re ordered to use – often for purely ornamental purposes; homeowners who use pesticides they’ve been led to believe, erroneously, are harmless (See Sharon Tisher’s “Pesticides Quiz”); citizens exposed to pesticide drift when neighbors use toxic products; pets that play on lawns treated with pesticides; consumers unwittingly ingesting pesticide residues on non-organic foods; fish swimming in the St. Lawrence River or its tributaries, where 99 percent of 68 water samples contained at least one of 10 pesticides tested (again, see; and on and on.

Some of us can create choices, however.

We can raise our own plants and animals organically, and support others who do the same – taking additional solace in the fact that organic also means not genetically engineered.

We can post signs noting that our yards are pesticide-free zones, and canvas our neighborhoods with doorknob hangers advocating for pesticide-free lawns. (See

We can opt to give birthday and holiday gifts of organic foods, herbal products, landscape plants and other goods. How about a gift membership to an organic CSA – and to MOFGA?

We can support candidates who support legislation promoting organic.

We can celebrate! Farmers’ markets, food co-ops, organic farms that welcome visitors – all offer the chance to build community around organic. And of course the Common Ground Country Fair is the ideal place to enjoy organic products, to revel with some 60,000 forward-looking people, to support our dedicated organic producers and to learn more about the benefits of organic – including ways to give bees a choice.

Give bees a choice. Most of the rest will fall into place.

See you at the Fair!