Do you ever think about the health of our planet and feel overwhelmed or powerless to make a change? In today’s instant world we often expect instant results but sometimes it’s not that easy – unless it is.
The truth is there is one small change you can easily make that is as good for you as it is for the Earth. We’re talking true self-empowerment here. Like zero-to-sixty in a Tesla fast change. It’s as easy as eating organic, or rather eating what our ancestors called “food” until science changed things in the 1950s.
Our food, the very thing that we rely on to keep us healthy, can make us sick. Without getting into the politics of agencies and lawmakers, the bottom line is that current laws that regulate the use of pesticides are extremely lax. These laws do not take into account the cumulative effect of multiple pesticide exposures, and they even allow many known carcinogens to be used as pesticides and sprayed liberally on our food. These carcinogens include: iprodione, phenoxy acid herbicides, Glyphosate, malathion, diazinon, 1,3 dichloropropene, chloropicrin, methyl bromide, atrazine, acetochlor, alachlor, amisulbrom, birenthrin, butachlor, cyanazine, cumyluron, diclofop-methyl, and thiodicarb¹.
It might be hard to believe that carcinogens are in our bodies or that a simple dietary change could make a profound impact, but it’s true. Studies have shown that switching from a diet of conventional produce to a diet of organic produce can immediately cause pesticide blood levels to plummet². We also know that children who are exposed to pesticides early in life have an increased risk of cancer, cognitive disability, and behavioral problems³. Switching to organic may be the single most important (and easiest) way to impact your child’s health.
One Dozen Ways to Make a Change
Before you start tallying up grocery costs in your head, or thinking about how hard it can be to find organic produce, we have a compromise: Start simple by avoiding the worst offenders. Each year, the Environmental Working Group provides a helpful list called The Dirty Dozen. Updated each year, this list includes the twelve produce items that have been shown by the USDA to have the highest concentrations of pesticide residue (even after washed or peeled). In 2017, the list included:
- Sweet Bell Peppers
For those of us wanting to “buycott” pesticides, the EWG also provides a handy list called The Clean Fifteen, which includes the fifteen produce items that demonstrated the lowest concentrations of pesticide residue by the USDA. (Good news, folks, avocados are on the list!) Currently, this list includes:
- Sweet corn
- Sweet Peas (frozen)
It’s also important to think about organic changes that you can make outside of the produce aisle – because there are still a lot of crops hidden in every aisle of the grocery store. Add grains and oats to your organic shopping list. Both are sprayed with Glyphosate, a carcinogen mentioned above, to expedite the drying process. Buy organic oats, flour, and bread to keep this out of your food and out of our soil.
Eating organic takes the toxic, persistent pesticides that deplete the soil and make us sick out of the equation. Why? Because every item of food you buy is a vote. You can vote for farmers who are dedicated to stewarding the Earth, or vote for industrial farms that put profit above sustainability. When you think about it, it’s quite simply the natural choice.
¹Environmental Working Group (2007, October). DDT Is Not Healthy for Children and Other Living Things.
²Curl, Cynthia. Estimating Pesticide Exposure from Dietary Intake and Organic Food Choices: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1408197
³Wagner-Schuman M. Association of pyrethroid pesticide exposure with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in a nationally representative sample of U.S. children.