Organic Food – Are you getting what you paid for?
Do you shop organic? Most people who shop organic choose to do so for safer and better controlled foods. Buying organic meats and produce can help you get the most nutrition out of your energizing meals and snacks with the least amount of pesticide exposure.

I’ll Pass on the Pesticides
Pesticides include insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, rodenticides and other compounds that are designed to kill various species of pests. Ideally, they should be lethal or harmful for these target species only, not humans or other plant and animal species that are not pests. That is not always the case.

According to Alan Greene, MD of The Organic Center, the average American is exposed to between 10 and 13 pesticide residues from food, beverages, and water each day. Organic crops are found to have fewer nitrates, nitrites, and pesticide residues. Although some organic foods can display small traces of pesticides picked up from nearby farms, they still have dramatically fewer pesticide levels than foods from conventional farms.

What are some health risks associated with pesticide exposure? They have been linked to birth defects, reproductive abnormalities, and a range of neurological and developmental problems. One type of pesticide, organophosphate insecticides, has been linked to cancer and neurological diseases of aging, such as dementia. The developing bodies of infants and babies are especially sensitive to these synthetic chemicals, some of which are carcinogens and neurotoxins. Pesticide exposure has also been linked to less IQ points in young children.

A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that the risk for contamination with pesticide residues is 30% lower from organic foods than foods from conventional farms. Organic is best. Eating as much organic food as possible, if not always, is the best way to reduce your exposure to pesticides.

More Nutrients, Please
According to a review published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, organic crops have more minerals, more dry matter, vitamin C, essential amino acids, and phenolic compounds. They even store better and have better sensory qualities.

Your Environment Will Thank You
Your environment affects your health. Clean air, water, or soil means less health problems. Conversely, polluted or contaminated air, water, or soil can lead to more health problems. The choices we make will impact the health of our environment.

In 1964, the U.S. used about 540 million pounds of pesticides. Pesticide usage grew in 1993 to about 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides. Where does our nation stand now? According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States uses approximately 5.1 billion pounds of pesticides each year. How does that impact our environment? Many of these pesticides are not rigorously tested for health and safety. In fact, a recent two year investigation conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that the EPA has approved roughly 10,000 poorly tested or untested pesticides for use in consumer products. This was done using a loophole in government policy.

Pesticides can contaminate water, soil, vegetation, and the tissues of various species, including fish, birds, insects that are beneficial to the environment, and other wildlife. According to the journal Interdisciplinary Toxicology, water contamination from pesticides is widespread. The U.S. Geological Survey reviewed a series of studies and found that more than 90% of water and fish samples from streams across the U.S. contained numerous pesticides.

When a pesticide is sprayed, it does not always land in the targeted area. In fact, the particles can travel a few hundred miles. Non-targeted plants or species can be exposed to pesticides this way.

Which “Supply” do you “Demand”?
Fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods are crucial to reducing your risk of many cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. It is important not to shy away from these foods. These are health-promoting foods. The best lifestyle change you can make for your diet is to avoid processed foods, added sugars, and unhealthy fats.

As an educated consumer, consider the source of your food. Research clearly shows that the consumption of organic foods significantly reduces levels of pesticides in the body. If you can, take advantage of every opportunity to eat organic as much as possible.

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Ann Intern Med. 2012 Sep 4;157(5):348-66. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-157-5-201209040-00007.
Interdiscip Toxicol. 2009 March; 2(1): 1–12.
Environ. Health Perspect. 116: 537, 2008.