While my goal is to help you reduce your daily exposure to chemicals, it is not enough for me to tell you don’t eat that, eat this, or don’t buy that, buy this.
My goal is to educate and motivate you to change, and feel empowered to shift the landscape for yourself, and everyone else when is comes to reducing your toxic load. While we are exposed to toxins daily from the food we eat to the products we use and more, I figured I would start with what we already associate with the word healthy, and that is the kitchen. Food is something that we’re consuming everyday, multiple times a day, and every time we put something into our mouths we have the opportunity to change our health. So let’s dive in and understand the importance of eating organic.
Humans have been farming for over 10,000 years but pesticides have only been used for the last several decades. Worldwide, about 5.6 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year – the US accounts for 1 billion of those, which are applied to farms, forests, golf courses, and lawns.
Pesticides from foods are making their way into our bodies; outside of occupational exposures to pesticides, foods are the primary route of exposure. Many pesticides are measured in more than 95% of humans.
Exposure to pesticides are linked with very serious health issues, including:
- Low birth weight
- Poor attention in children
- Decreased cognitive skills for children with prenatal exposures
- Parkinson’s disease
- Testicular cancer
- Breast cancer
- Early onset puberty
- Fertility issues in women
- Fertility issues in men
- Chronic fatigue
- Chronic fatigue
- Reproductive effects
- Reduced IQ
- Neurobehavioral developmental issues
- Behavioral problems
- Alzheimer;s disease
- Leukemia & lymphoma
- Fetal brain damage
- Increased risk of miscarriage and pre-term births
- Chronic kidney disease
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
How to Reduce Exposure to Pesticides
Since ingestion of pesticides through the foods we eat is a primary exposure source outside of occupational exposures, it makes sense to start here on our mission to reduce exposure to environmental toxins.
Eating a diet of mostly organic foods can help to dramatically reduce the levels of pesticides in our bodies. Numerous intervention studies have shown that less than 1 week of eating a mostly organic diet can reduce circulating levels of pesticides by 80-90%!
Aim to purchase as much of your fruits & vegetables organic as possible, and aim to buy meat & dairy products that are also organic.
To help you budget your grocery dollars, you can turn to the Environmental Working Group’s
The annual Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen guide. Each year the EWG combs through USDA pesticide residue testing data to share the top 12 fruits and vegetables that have the highest pesticide residues, as well as the 15 with the lowest levels. This guide can help you make the healthiest choices while also being mindful of budget.
Know Your Labels
There are two labels that often appear on product labels: USDA organic, and non-GMO.
It’s important to know that these are not the same thing.
Non-GMO labeling arose out of fear of genetically modified crops like those made to be resistant to RoundUp, but it ignores the reality that all conventional produce, including crops that are not, nor ever have been genetically modified, are treated with pesticides. Non-GMO labeled foods very likely still have pesticide residues.
USDA Organic certification does not permit GM foods, so this is your best bet!
Or if you shop at your local farmers market the certification for organic is costly so ask them about their farming practices. Most farmers practice organic farming they just do not have the money to pay for the certification. This not only gets you to know your farmer and support local, you will also be purchasing fruits and vegetables in season.