Episode 16: PFAS: The ‘Forever Chemicals’ in Your Food

What do you know about a class of chemicals called PFAS? You can’t see them, and you can’t smell them, but they’re there, providing water-resistance and grease-proof protection to burger wrappers and pizza boxes, and used by manufacturers in items ranging from raincoats to contact lenses to toilet paper. When we dispose of these products, the chemicals end up in our soils and waterways, and the fact that they don’t break down has earned them the name “forever chemicals.” In this episode we head to Maine to learn more about PFAS and how they have ended up in well water, on farms, in food and ultimately in people’s bodies.

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“So when I've had folks from the general public ask me about, you know, 'Can I even eat food from Maine?' And I sort of say, 'I'd probably rather eat food from Maine than from elsewhere because we've started this investigation.' We've already removed those most contaminated streams of food.”

Caleb Goossen

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

Episode guests:

Fred Stone

Fred is the third generation of the Stone family to own and operate Stoneridge Farm, a dairy farm in Arundel, Maine, where he has raised dairy cows for more than 40 years.

Sarah Alexander

Sarah is the executive director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA). She has over 20 years of experience advocating for sustainable, local and fair food systems.

Adam Nordell

Adam is a campaign manager for Defend Our Health who is focused on addressing Maine farmland contamination. For 11 years he was an organic vegetable and grain farmer as the co-owner and manager of Songbird Farm in Unity, Maine.

Caleb Goossen

Caleb is the organic crop and conservation specialist at MOFGA.

Patty Lovera

Patty works on food and agriculture policy, with a special focus on animal agriculture. She helped start Food & Water Watch, serving as their food and water program director for 14 years.

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Top photo by LuisFernando/Adobe Stock.