StonyFields: Why Playing Fields Should be Organic, Too

In Health/ Lifestyle

Did you know many fields where kids play in the US are sprayed with harmful pesticides? The movement to get rid of toxic chemicals in playing fields and public parks is spreading across the country!

Organic fields, non toxic fields, StonyFields, Boy with ball

This post was created in partnership with Stonyfield. All opinions are our own. 

Did you know many fields where kids play are sprayed with pesticides?

As you know, Alex and I are passionate about avoiding chemicals in food. That’s part of why we started this website in the first place! This space is devoted mostly to recipes and cooking inspiration, but hear me out on this one. Did you know many fields in the US where kids play are sprayed with pesticides, including sports fields, playgrounds, and parks? Yikes. We didn’t. After becoming parents to sweet Larson (our model for all of these photos!), we’re even more passionate about doing everything we can to make sure he and all kids around us are safe and healthy.

The other day I jumped on the phone with Stonyfield Organic’s founder, Gary. This guy is ultra passionate about organic food–and organic playing fields and parks. So Stonyfield has launched a new initiative called StonyFields. They’re providing resources about how to make a dent in this issue, and even partnering with 35 cities across the country to help clean up playing fields (one of them might be yours)! What I love about Stonyfield is that they care about the entire solution to making our world a healthier place, not just one piece of the puzzle. They want to help families and communities avoid toxic chemicals in their food and beyond.

Hearing Gary talk about this new project made me want to jump up and down and shout YES! (Yeah, I’m a nerd about this stuff!) Because if I care about getting chemicals out of the food we eat, I should care about getting them out of  where kids play, too. Right? The good news is: the movement to remove chemicals from playing fields is spreading across the US. And just like organic food, organic fields are a Win-Win. Communities that have converted to organic fields find that over time, it saves money. Learning about this has made us even think about the chemicals on our backyard, too. Keep reading for more about StonyFields and what you can do to help!

Watch Stonyfield’s video

This issue is complicated to explain, but Stonyfield’s video does a great job explaining a complex issue in 2 minutes! Watch below.

Organic fields, non toxic fields, StonyFields, Boy with ball

Our tiny tree hugger!

What’s the problem with pesticides?

Here’s what we’ve learned: 26 million kids play on fields in the US, and most of the fields are sprayed with a mix of harmful chemicals. Some of the most common chemicals in what is sprayed can be potentially carcinogenic (according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer). When kids run and play on these fields, they’re directly exposed to these chemicals by directly inhaling them, getting it on their skin, and even tracking it into the house on their sneakers. Kids are more sensitive to the harmful effects of chemicals because they weigh less and their organs and detox systems aren’t fully developed yet.

Why are pesticides used on playing fields?

If you’re like me, you might be wondering why pesticides are used on fields in the first place?! Herbicides are used to control weeds. Insecticides are applied to kill a variety of bugs and grubs that can create problems in playing field management. And fungicides are periodically required to control fungal pathogens. However, all of these pesticides can be phased out when fields are managed organically! That’s where StonyFields comes in: keep reading.

Organic fields, non toxic fields, StonyFields, Boy with ball

What’s the StonyFields project?

The StonyFields project is launched by Stonyfield to partner with communities across America to make all fields organic by stopping the use of harmful pesticides on playing fields. Their goal is to help communities across America convert to organic field maintenance, and empower families everywhere to make change locally and in your own backyard.

Stonyfield is partnering with 9 cities across America to help them convert to organic fields! Here is the list of cities:

  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Burbank, California
  • Tustin, California
  • Costa Mesa, California
  • Houston, Texas
  • North Miami, Florida
  • South Portland, Maine
  • Portsmouth, New Hampshire
  • Dover, New Hampshire
  • Hyattsville, Maryland

This StonyFIELDS Movement Map shows how the movement to get rid of toxic chemicals in playing fields and public spaces is spreading across the country, both with Stonyfield initiative fields and other fields in the US.  For many communities, it started out of health concerns, but many of these communities have also found using organic lawn practices saves money too!

Organic fields, non toxic fields, StonyFields, Boy with ball

What can I do to help?

If you’ve made it this far, you may be thinking: What do I do now? Here’s a few things you can do to be part of the solution for organic fields:

  1. Change your own community. If you’re super passionate, you can start the dialog in your own community about converting playing fields to organic. If this is you, go to Stonyfield’s guide on how to change your community.
  2. Nominate your community! Stonyfield is giving out grants to 10 cities across the US! If you nominate your city or town, you’ll have a chance to win this grant. If this is you, click here to Apply for a Donation! Someone please nominate Indianapolis!
  3. Clean up your back yard. There’s no place better to start reducing pesticide use than in your own garden or yard! Ready to start learning about an organic lawn? Click here for 3 Tips for Healthier Lawns and Gardens.

Organic fields, non toxic fields, StonyFields, Boy with ball

Any questions?

OK, this was a lot of information about a subject that’s a bit outside of our standard recipes and healthy eating inspiration! However, it’s something we’re passionate about as healthy eating means healthy living, too. Please let us know if you have any questions. Also, we’d love to know: do you think about this topic? Let us know in the comments below.

Organic fields, non toxic fields, StonyFields, Boy with ball

About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best vegetarian cookbooks” by Epicurious, and a recipe developer and healthy & sustainable food advocate behind the award-nominated food blog A Couple Cooks.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is photographer and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best new cookbooks” by Bon Appetit, and a recipe developer, photographer, and technical expert at A Couple Cooks.

1 Comment

  • Reply
    Abby
    September 20, 2018 at 9:21 am

    This article may be of interest to you, if you’re passionate about avoiding chemicals in food: http://blogs.nature.com/thescepticalchymist/files/2014/06/nchem_-Chemical-Free.pdf

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