New survey reveals parents’ knowledge of pesticides in community parks and playing fields lags significantly to food awareness

Londonderry, NH, April 18, 2018 – Marking its 35th anniversary, Stonyfield Organic, the country’s leading organic yogurt maker, today announces a bold commitment that not only celebrates the brand’s organic leadership role in the food space, but also casts an eye to a different and equally as large issue facing families. While huge strides have been made in the organic food space over the past 35 years, less is happening around environmental and health issues specific to the use of pesticides beyond food. To that end, Stonyfield is dedicating this year, and beyond, to bringing greater awareness about possible exposure to pesticides in children’s outdoor playing fields and community spaces.

In a recent survey, Stonyfield found that while the majority of American parents (69%) are looking to lessen exposure to pesticides in food, nearly the same number (67%) do not consider sports fields, playgrounds and parks to be of concern. Yet most of the playing fields and parks kids play on are treated with a chemical cocktail of herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. Many of the commonly used chemicals are either proven or likely endocrine disruptors, which can interfere with the development of children’s immune, reproductive, and metabolic systems. Today, 68% of US parents are more likely to buy a product labelled organic, their primary reason being to avoid pesticides, but Stonyfield believes food is just one part of the preventative health equation and the maverick yogurt company has set out to raise awareness and empower parents everywhere to make change locally.

“When we first began 35 years ago, many people thought we were crazy and organic just meant you had to ‘chew more’. Today, it’s encouraging to see the strides the organic food industry has made, helping educate around health and working towards making organic a mainstream and accessible food choice for families. But we’ve still got work to do,” says Stonyfield’s co-founder and Chief Organic Optimist, Gary Hirshberg. “We want to ensure that every kid in America is protected from harmful chemicals and toxins. It starts with food, but we believe all children should play free as well– free from worry, free from harmful chemicals, and free from toxic persistent pesticides.”

Stonyfield is proud to advocate for reducing kids’ exposure to toxic persistent pesticides and to lend its voice to support and empower parents. In the same survey, one third of parents said that if they were made aware their child’s sports field, playground or park was treated with pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals, they would not allow them to continue playing in these spaces.

“To put it frankly, the use of certain pesticides and other chemicals on playing fields should be banned, as children are much more susceptible to possible chemical side effects compared to adults,” says Philip Landrigan, MD, MSc, Founding Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and author of the book Children and Environmental Toxins: What Everyone Needs to Know. “Children have a larger surface-to-volume ratio and more permeable skin, leading to greater skin absorption of toxic chemicals, not to mention that their developing organ systems are more susceptible to the impacts of pesticides and less likely to be able to detoxify harmful chemicals. That’s why it’s so important that they’re playing on organic fields, without the worry of harmful pesticides or other chemicals.”

At a time politically when funding and resources for toxic-chemical regulation are being drastically cut, and even agencies like The National Center for Environmental Research, that works to test the effects of chemical exposure on adults and children, is being dismantled, watching out for children’s health is more urgent and important than ever.

For that reason, Stonyfield is announcing a three year, half million dollar initiative to work with 35 communities across the country to convert outdoor playing fields and parks to organic while also igniting a larger movement to ensure that all kids can play freely without the concern of potentially harmful chemicals.

“While Stonyfield is best known as a passionate change maker in the organic food movement, this effort goes far beyond the products we make and sell. We need to be just as concerned with what goes on kids’ bodies as what goes in them. This takes our mission of healthier people and a healthier planet to the next level by shedding light on an often overlooked issue and reminding everyone that they can make change locally to protect the health of our children and our environment,” added Hirshberg.

With pilot fields converting this spring, Stonyfield will be announcing more about the initiative in the months to come. Beyond its direct work with 35 communities, Stonyfield aims to empower families everywhere and will be providing tools and resources to make change locally with the official launch of the initiative later this year. For more information, visit https://www.stonyfield.com/organic/environment/35-years-35-communities and follow Stonyfield’s progress using the #PlayFree hashtag on social media.

About Stonyfield
As the leading organic yogurt maker, Stonyfield takes care with everything it puts into its yogurts and everything it keeps out. By saying no to toxic persistent pesticides, artificial hormones, antibiotics and GMOs, Stonyfield has been saying yes to delicious, healthy food for 35 years. With their direct milk supply program, Stonyfield helps to grow the number of organic dairy farms in New England – and through their support of the Wolfe’s Neck Organic Dairy Farmer Training Program, Stonyfield is helping to train the next generation of organic farmers.

Stonyfield and Lindberg International surveyed 1,000 adults age 18 and older, comprised of 537 parents with children living at home, in January 2018.