If you haven't already switched from conventionally grown to organically grown fruits and vegetables, this might convince you.
I made the switch when I was pregnant because the last thing I wanted to do was pollute my babe's body with toxins, chemicals, and weird hormones!
I know organic produce is often more expensive, but there are some ways to cut costs, and I think it's worth it to avoid synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, toxins, synthetic growth and breeding hormones, antibiotics, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
A Few Reasons (of many) To Eat Organic Food:
1. Protect Those Babies and Kids
Babies and kids are most vulnerable to pesticide exposure because their nervous system and internal organs are still developing and maturing, and their brains are growing rapidly. Also, in relation to their body weight, infants and children eat and drink more than adults, possibly increasing their exposure to pesticides in food and water.
Another way pesticides may cause harm is if a child's excretory system is not fully developed, the body is not able to fully remove pesticides. There are also "critical periods" in human development when exposure to a toxin can permanently alter the way an individual's biological system operates.
2. You Aren’t Eating Pesticides, Herbicides, and Toxic Fertilizers
I think it goes without saying…why would you eat fruits and vegetables covered in pesticides?
Conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are more than likely sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, and grown in soil using synthetic fertilizer. Evidence is mounting that elevated levels of chemicals in our bodies are linked to a higher risk of all types of diseases, such as reduced fertility (particularly in men), immune suppression, and bladder, breast and other cancers. Organophosphate pesticides are among the more common pesticides in use today, and research links them to effecting brain development, behavior and fertility. A few of the many ways organophosphates can affect the human body include interfering with the way testosterone communicates with cells, lowering testosterone and altering thyroid hormone levels. Buying organic produce will help you avoid this gross group of pesticides.
To cut costs when buying organic food, I refer to the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen list, and I buy organic fruits and vegetables based off the list. All Dirty Dozen produce in my house is organic or it’s not purchased.
Also, using those fruit and veggie cleaning sprays are great for removing food-borne-illness pathogens and some pesticides from the food’s surface, but washing non-organic produce doesn’t remove pesticides from within the flesh.
3. You Aren’t Eating Antibiotics, Growth Hormones, and GMOs
It’s easier to avoid GMOs if you eat organic. This is convincing enough for me to make changes in my shopping habits in the dairy aisle. I choose organic dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, cream cheese, sour cream, etc.). Because of this minor change, I am avoiding antibiotics and growth and breeding hormones. How? Cows are fed antibiotics and/or growth and breeding hormones to fatten them up and to produce more milk. I am also potentially avoiding GMOs since those cows are often fed supplemental feed usually made from corn or soy, and over 90% of corn, soy, and canola are likely to come from genetically engineered crops.
The United States remains one of the only industrialized countries that doesn’t label GMOs, which is astounding to me. Until our food is labeled, your safest best for avoiding GMOs is to purchase organic.
More and more, studies are being done confirming the potential dire effects from eating GMOs. Reuters reports an MIT study showing the type of chemicals being sprayed on genetically engineered crops are making their way into our food. The most popular herbicide sprayed on genetically engineered crops is Monsanto’s Roundup and the chief ingredient, called “glyphosate,” is linked to Parkinson’s disease, infertility and many forms of cancers.
Bottom Line: I could go on and on about the dangers of ingesting GMOs, growth hormones, pesticides, and other toxic chemicals. Small changes can make a difference in your health so I urge you to consider making changes little by little, starting today!
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods
1. US Environmental Protection Agency. Pesticides and Food: Why Children May be Especially Sensitive to Pesticides. May 9, 2012.
2. Heavy use of herbicide Roundup linked to health dangers-U.S. study. Apr 25, 2013.
3. Archived Live Superfoods Blog, GMOs and skyrocketing pesticide use?
Action point: Discuss or demonstrate that the reason most people buy organic food is for what it does not contain: toxins, pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, growth hormones and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).