c) Accepting the odd bug in fresh produce
As a result of widespread pesticide use in agriculture we have become used to our fruit and vegetables being entirely ‘bug-free’. This is because pesticides – and in particular insecticides – don’t only kill the living things they are targeted at but can kill all insects which come into contact with them. Supermarkets often receive complaints and requests for refunds if shoppers come across an insect in their fresh produce. However, what most shoppers don’t know is that finding an insect could be a sign that a crop hasn’t been drenched in pesticides.
In fact, a good way for farmers to reduce pesticide use is through encouraging populations of ‘natural enemies’ which are insects that help to keep pests under control. While this reduces the need to use pesticides, it also increases the likelihood of finding a bug in your lettuce (for example). If we want UK supermarkets to reduce pesticide use in their supply chains, then we must change our mind set to see a limited amount of bugs in fruit and vegetables as a positive thing.
Less than half of UK supermarkets are actively encouraging their customers to accept that they may occasionally ﬁnd a ‘bug’ in fresh produce they buy. Given that this is a key obstacle to reducing pesticide use, PAN UK would like to see all supermarkets proactively educating shoppers to embrace finding the odd insect among their fruit or vegetables.