CMD broke the story that the $12.9 billion-a-year natural and organic foods retailer Whole Foods Market has a policy of "don't ask, don't tell" when it comes to non-organic produce being grown in fields spread with sewage sludge, euphemistically called "biosolids." Since then, activists and PRWatch readers have sent emails to Whole Foods executives asking the company to require its suppliers to disclose this information and label it for customers. Now Whole Foods has announced that it will "prohibit the use of biosolids" as a requirement for produce suppliers.
Beautiful spring weather has gardeners outside seeding lettuce and transplanting tomatoes. Community gardens are ramping up for a growing season full of hot peppers and trailing squash vines. The sewage sludge "composting" industry wants in on the action. May 6 to May 12 has been declared "International Compost Awareness Week" by the sewage sludge industry trade group the U.S. Composting Council (USCC).
Don't fancy the thought of your spinach and carrots being grown in sewage sludge?
Neither does Mario Ciasulli, a semi-retired electrical engineer living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Mario likes to cook, and enjoys good food. When he found out last year about the practice of spreading dried and heated human and industrial waste as "fertilizer" on food crops, he was upset.
Good news! The sewage treatment plant in Calabasas, California has been giving away free sludge! Free sludge, you say? That potent stew of human and industrial sewage sludge laced with flame retardants, endocrine disruptors, pharmaceutical residues, phthalates, industrial solvents, resistant pathogens, and perfluorinated compounds? "Composted" sludge, which can bioaccumulate in plants grown in sludge-contaminated soil? Oh, goodie.
Nine months before tens of thousands flocked to a popular music festival in Austin, Texas, the concert park grounds were spread with sewage sludge. It was autumn of 2009, and sewage sludge was used as a "fertilizer" to make the grass -- parched from prior dry seasons -- green. But it rained the weekend of the festival, turning the grounds into a huge mud pit, with a stench that one concert-goer described as the smell of "pig manure," with the consistency of pudding.
Following the event, several attendees reported rashes and other maladies that they believe were contracted from coming in contact with the churned up human and industrial waste. The local media was abuzz with stories of the festival's epidemiological aftermath.
Recently, a group of farmers and neighbors in Salmon Valley, near Prince George, British Columbia, successfully blockaded Wright Creek Road and turned back a truck full of sewage sludge headed for a 117 acre parcel of farm land contracted as a dump site by the City of Prince George. One neighbor brought a snowmobile towing a portable fire pit on a sled so that they were able to keep warm while they blocked the road. As of this writing, the trucks have not returned.
The Water Environment Federation (WEF), the sewage sludge industry trade group that invented the Orwellian PR euphemism "biosolids" for toxic sludge in 1991, is now "rebranding" sewage treatment plants as "water resource recovery facilities." The PR spin conveniently glosses over the toxic sewage sludge removed from the water and then heated and dumped on land for crops and grazing as "fertilizer" or misleadingly called "compost." The toxins in sludge can then bioaccumulate in the meat and dairy we eat and be taken up by the food plants that feed us.