This information surprised me. I've known most of my life that I react very negatively to pesticides and chemicals in my food, perhaps the legacy of growing up in the lemon and orange groves of Southern California, but I was amazed to discover where these chemicals came from. Here is an article from Care2.com that connects those dots and speaks to some of the ways we can avoid or minimize this problem.
An apple a day might have kept the doctor away prior to the industrialization of food growing and preparation. Unless it’s a pesticide-free apple, not only is today’s apple not sufficient to keep the doctor away, it is more likely to keep the doctor on call. According to research compiled by the United States Drug Administration (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service, Pesticide Data Program, today’s apple contains residue of many toxic chemicals used during the growing process.
In only one category of chemicals, known as organophosphate insecticides, this federal government agency found residue of many different neurotoxins (chemicals proven to harm the brain and/or nervous system in humans). They include: azinophos, methyl chloripyrofos, diazinon, dimethoate, ethion, omethioate, parathion, parathion methyl, phosalone, and phosmet. Doesn't make that apple sound too appetizing does it?
You may be thinking, “Well, in minute amounts maybe pesticides are okay.” Think again. There’s a newer understanding of toxicology referred to as “the dose doesn’t make the poison.” In other words, some toxins are MORE HARMFUL IN SMALLER DOSES, particularly when it comes to endocrine disruptors (read hormone hell!). Scary but true. And, if that wasn’t the case, the average apple is still sprayed with pesticides seventeen times before it is harvested. And, it’s really no different than most fruits and vegetables.
A study by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified more than 55 pesticides that can leave cancer-causing residues in food. According to the Natural Resource Defense Council, the use of pesticides has risen more than tenfold since the 1940s. Currently, over 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides are used in agriculture every year in the United States alone.
There are many people who still believe that pesticides are safe–mostly people who have a vested interest in maintaining the pesticide usage status quo. But, consider their origins. After wartime use of nerve gases, corporations needed a market to sell chemicals that really were best suited for killing…and so they thought up the idea of using them to kill insects on our food supply. But, increasing amounts of research is showing that this not-so-genius idea is showing that while pesticides kill pests quickly, they may also harm or kill us slowly. In case you missed it, I can think of 55 reasons off the top of my head to avoid pesticides as much as possible (55 cancer-causing residues on food!)
Pesticides are not easily washed off produce. The same is true once they enter your body. Fat-soluble pesticides are attracted to the fat stores in your body. Research shows that even though the pesticide DDT was banned in Canada and the United States over three decades ago, it is found in 100% of human fat samples tested by the EPA.
So, what can you do? Stop spraying your house, body, garden, or grass with chemical insect repellents or insecticides. Eat organic food as much as possible. If that’s difficult for you, get to know the local food growers in your area and find out which ones may not be certified organic but still aren’t using pesticides (they’re often cheaper). Grow your own food—even planters on a balcony or a tower garden work well. And, don’t forget sprouts. Grow your own sprouts. They’re nutritious and a delicious addition to meals and you can control what they’re exposed to and what finds its way into your body.
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