She's a proponent of organic food
(as are many of us), and mentioned two reasons she doesn't like
conventionally grown produce. The first – residual pesticides - is a
legitimate concern. But then she stated her second concern that
"chemical fertilizers in the soil are taken up and stored in the plant."
Plants really don't care (excuse my anthropomorphizing) where their
mineral nutrients come from. Nitrogen in ammonium sulfate is the same
element as the nitrogen in cottonseed meal. The plant uses it for
amino acids, chlorophyll, alkaloids, and many, many other compounds.
Martha's faulty thinking falls into the "organic is safer than
chemical" mindset that way too many people hold (you can read a column
I wrote about this in 2001 here).
"Chemical" is not intrinsically bad and "organic" is not automatically
safe. This is an emotion-based argument and inspires fear rather than
thoughtful discussion. When someone parrots this mantra, I can't take
So Martha, do what smart garden writers are doing to avoid such gaffes in the future. Subscribe to the Garden Professors Blog, then read Linda's The Informed Gardener and Jeff Gillman's The Truth about Organic Gardening. Keep up, or stick to what you know.