Whether you choose to use organically grown teas or tea grown conventionally using pesticides, it is a very personal choice. I think its important, when making such a choice, that you make an informed one. Hopefully, the following information will help you do that.
Non Organic Tea
Tea is a plantation crop grown in monoculture – which means there aren’t other crops grown along with it – and this provides favourable conditions for variety of pests. They love their tea too. Along with this, tea is grown in climates that also create favourable conditions for pests. This has meant that in recent years there has been a greater dependence on the use of pesticides to control these pests and over time, the pests have developed resistance to some of the pesticides. So stronger pesticides need to be used.
Not all countries have the same strict regulations as we do about the type of pesticides that can be used and the allowable residue in the tea itself. 10 insecticides, 5 acaricides, 9 herbicides and 5 fungicides are approved as safe for use in tea growing in India. No matter what you do, you will have some residue of these chemicals on the tea leaf and in the tea cup.
The tea industry is huge, world wide and there appears to be work being put in to looking at more sustainable strategies for tea growing, to reduce the reliance on pesticides. That would be a really good thing, including for the tea harvesters and their families regularly exposed to pesticides.
I have to admit, my choice will always be organic – using farming methods that not only produce food, including tea, that is higher in the plant phytochemicals and antioxidants that protect us from disease, but also takes care of the land, the environment and the farm workers.
Organic farming of tea uses bio-dynamic farming techniques where crops and livestock are integrated, nutrients recycled and the health of the soil, crops, animals and the farmer are holistically maintained. The rich and fertile soil that is created with this practice, without the use of pesticides, produces a pure and healthy product.
The Dangers of Pesticides
Something to think about:
- Pesticides form part of a group of chemicals called POPs or Persistent Organic Pollutants. They persist in the environment and in animal and human tissue.
- POPs can build up in the body and the amount you carry will be determined by your daily exposure and your own ability to detoxify them.
- POPs have links to a range of diseases throughout life: infertility, breast and prostate cancer, atherosclerosis, diabetes, immune system disturbances and many more.
We can’t totally avoid exposure to POPs but we can certainly reduce it – through reducing our daily use of toxic chemicals in our homes, minimising the use of plastics, especially with food and wherever possible, using food and drinks produced with organic biodynamic farming principles.
Organic Tea, especially if you are a tea lover, is a great start.
Amanda Hunter ND