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Strawberries Remain at Top of Pesticide List, Report Says

An annual report by the Environmental Working Group found that nearly 70% of samples of 48 types of conventionally grown produce were contaminated with pesticide residues. That’s down 6.6 percentage points from last year.

The EWG Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, released Wednesday, ranks pesticide contamination of popular fruits and vegetables based on more than 36,000 samples of produce tested by the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.

This year, strawberries remained at the top of the list of produce with the highest concentration of pesticides, while sweet corn and avocados were ranked as having the lowest concentration.

What are pesticides?

Pesticides are widely used in producing food to control pests such as insects, rodents, weeds, bacteria, mold and fungus. In addition to their uses in agriculture, pesticides are used to protect public health by controlling organisms that carry tropical diseases, such as mosquitoes.

Pesticides are potentially toxic to humans, according to the World Health Organization. They may have negative effects on reproduction, immune or nervous systems, cause cancer and lead to other problems.

Pesticide residue can remain on fruits and vegetables even after they are washed and, in some cases, peeled, according to the report.

However, a report by the USDA in 2014 found that “overall pesticide chemical residues on foods tested were at levels below the tolerances established by the Environmental Protection Agency” and were not a safety concern to consumers.

The Dirty Dozen

Produce that tested positive for various pesticides and contained higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce is featured on the list, known as the “Dirty Dozen.”

Starting with the highest amounts of pesticide residue, the list features strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers and potatoes.
Strawberries remained at the top of the list with at least 20 pesticides, while spinach jumped into the second spot with twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.

Americans eat nearly 8 pounds of fresh strawberries per person each year, and even when they are rinsed in the field and washed before eating, they are still most likely to be contaminated with pesticide residue, according to the Environmental Working Group.

In 2016, spinach was ranked eighth, but the latest numbers from the USDA showed a sharp increase in pesticide residues on non-organic spinach since the crop was last tested eight years ago.

The pesticides responsible for the residues included three fungicides and one insecticide called permethrin, which has been linked to tremors and seizures in the nervous systems of animals and insects.

The newest additions to the list were pears and potatoes, which replaced cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from last year.

The Clean Fifteen

Produce that had relatively fewer pesticides and lower total concentrations of pesticide residues was placed on the group’s “Clean Fifteen” list.

This list included, in order, sweet corn (including corn on the cob and frozen corn), avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papaya, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit.

Only 1% of samples showed any detectable pesticides in avocados and sweet corn, which were deemed the cleanest produce.

More than 80% of pineapples, papaya, asparagus, onions and cabbage that were sampled showed no pesticide residue.

Methodology

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy group, analyzed more than 36,000 samples taken by personnel at the USDA and the FDA who mimicked consumer practices by first washing or peeling the produce.

To compare the fruits and vegetables, the group came up with a composite score for each type of produce based on six measures of contamination. Some of the measures include the percent of the sample tested with detectable pesticides and the average number of pesticides found on a single sample.

Shopping smart

Nutrition experts support the findings and even use the list to make recommendations to their own patients.

“I believe that this is an important source of information,” said Corinne Bush, a clinical nutritionist who was not part of the research.

Bush warns that some pesticides that do not exceed thresholds established by the EPA can still be very harmful, since low-level exposure over time can have extremely damaging effects.

The Environmental Working Group recommends buying organic produce whenever possible to reduce exposure to pesticides.

“If you don’t want to feed your family food contaminated with pesticides, the EWG Shopper’s Guide helps you make smart choices, whether you’re buying conventional or organic produce,” Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with the group, said in a news release.

“Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is essential no matter how they’re grown, but for the items with the heaviest pesticide loads, we urge shoppers to buy organic. If you can’t buy organic, the Shopper’s Guide will steer you to conventionally grown produce that is the lowest in pesticides.”

By Johanzynn Gatewood  (CNN)      Wed March 8, 2017
 


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Why Your Tea Should Be Organic

For both simple and serious reasons, tea is the superhero of all beverages—most simply because it is versatile. It can be drunk hot or cold, winter or summer, and morning, noon, or night. More importantly, tea is touted for its health benefits including high antioxidant and vitamin C levels and more. Tea has also stood the test of time. It spans both centuries and cultures, from its roots in Asia through Europe and India and to America. Tea has even played an important role in history. The taxation of tea led to the Boston Tea Party and, as a result, is thought to have played a part in starting the American Revolution. If that alone doesn’t give it superhero status, consider that tea can also serve as a natural dye! There are also less-tangible benefits of tea, as well. Tea soothes colds and comforts us through times of stress and sadness.

But what is tea, where does it come from, and why is it important to drink organic tea?

What Is Tea?
The truest tea comes from the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, and depending on where it is grown and how it is processed it results in black, green, oolong and white teas. Herbal tea is also available, but it is not made from the tea leaf; rather, it is infused herbs. Specialty teas may include tea leaves and herbs with the addition of flowers, fruits, and spices. We discuss the varieties in more detail below.

The best tea is grown at high altitudes and consists of the smallest new-growth leaves and unopened leaf buds that are picked by hand.

A Short History of the Origins of Tea
The tea plant is native to China and was first cultivated about 2,000 B.C. The Japanese “discovered” it during the eighth century A.D., followed by the Europeans during the seventeenth century, when the British quickly adopted this drink. Tea has played an important role in English culture, and can be seen in the popular British observance of afternoon tea, a light meal served at about 4:00 p.m., and high tea, which became a substitute for afternoon tea in the nineteenth century. Because China could not meet Britain’s high demand for tea, Britain set up tea plantations and colonies in India to support this import. It was not until the twentieth century that America started drinking it iced, which is thought to have started at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.

While tea has been around for thousands of years, it hasn’t been until recently that we have been able to select from the expansive variety of organic teas that are available today. Many organic tea companies are emerging with the awareness of organic farming methods on the rise. Even the larger, established tea producers, such as Celestial Seasonings and the Republic of Tea, are now using organic tea leaves for some of their blends.

Why Drink Organic Tea?
Organic tea is grown and processed without pesticides or artificial fertilizers and is also often Fair Trade. This means that you can reap the health benefits of organic tea knowing that small farms are being supported, workers on tea plantations are being treated fairly, and that both the workers and our environment are not exposed to the harmful chemicals used in conventional tea production.

Perhaps the most well-known benefit to drinking tea is for the high level of polyphenols found in tea leaves. Polyphenols are a type of natural plant antioxidant that has been found to help fight free radicals—molecules that occur in the environment that can cause damage to our cells. The accumulation of free-radical damage is thought to lead to heart disease and cancer. Green and black teas are the best known for their antioxidant benefits. Tea is also a wonderful alternative to coffee, with many varieties having just half of the caffeine. The antibacterial properties in tea are also said to improve oral health by preventing tooth decay and halitosis.

tea

Types of Tea
There are four “true teas” that come from the tea plant. They are black, green, oolong, and white and are so named for their production processes. Black is the most processed, followed by oolong, green, and white. All other teas are made with herbal, floral, fruit, spice, or combined infusions.

Black tea is the only “true tea” that is fully oxidized. In its production process, the leaves are picked and tumbled in a machine so that the juices from the leaves react with the air causing it to oxidize, or ferment and turn black. The leaves are then dried to produce the final product, which results in a strong dark reddish-brown brew. Popular varieties include Darjeeling, English breakfast, Earl Grey, and Lapsang Souchong—a distinctively smoky variety.

Green tea is not oxidized; it is steamed and dried, resulting in a slightly bitter, greenish-yellow blend. Green tea has the lowest amount of caffeine of the four “true teas.” Dragon well, tencha, and gunpowder are popular choices of green tea.

Oolong tea falls in between black tea and green tea in terms of taste and color because it is only partially fermented. Formosa oolong, which comes from Taiwan, is the best-known oolong tea.

White tea is the rarest of the four. It is the least handled in production, requiring only plucking and drying.

Rooibos tea is most commonly referred to as red tea, and does not actually come from a tea plant, but from a red bush in South Africa and is considered an herbal tea. Rooibos is reminiscent of the taste of green tea, but is less bitter.

Herbal tea is a hot water drink infused with herbs that often have medicinal properties and most often do not contain caffeine. Popular herbal teas include Peppermint and Chamomile.

Chai tea is a popular tea from India that consists of loose-leaf tea, milk and ground spices including cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, grated nutmeg, and pepper.

Specialty teas have a base of one of the above teas with the addition of flora, spices, or fruit. The possibilities of tea in this category are virtually endless!

Selection
Tea is available at just about any grocery store. Organic tea is less widely available, but now that many major brands are developing and launching organic tea lines, they are becoming more popular. The best place to find a wide variety of high-quality organic tea is at specialty tea shops, coffeehouses, and gourmet stores. Herbal teas are also available in health-food stores. Tea comes loose or in tea bags. We recommend loose tea for its flavor, but if you prefer tea bags for their convenience, look for the environmentally friendly alternative—natural, unbleached tea bags, which should be free of excessive components like extra strings, tags, and staples.

Storage 
Tea may be stored for up to a year, and it should be kept in a cool, dark place in its original plastic or foil packaging in an airtight container.

Preparation
While tea bags are the most convenient method for preparing tea, loose tea provides the best tea experience as it allows the tea’s full flavor to circulate. For best results, bring filtered water to just under a boil. Place the tea bag or loose tea (one teaspoon per cup) in your tea cup, tea ball, or tea pot and allow it to steep 1–3 minutes for green tea, 3–6 minutes for black tea, and 6–8 minutes for oolong tea. Herbal teas need more time and should generally be steeped 8–12 minutes unless the packaging indicates otherwise. Use the above guidelines to determine which end of the spectrum you like your tea, weakest to strongest. Be sure to stir the tea to promote circulation. Remove the tea bag or tea ball and serve. Many people enjoy adding honey, sugar, milk, or soy milk, but many are purists and want to savor it unenhanced. Of course, a traditional crumpet, muffin, or cookie can be a wonderful treat alongside a hot cup of tea!


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New Research Finds Organic Food Offers More Superior Health Benefits than Conventional

A one-year research review commissioned by a European Parliament committee has confirmed the benefits of organic food production for human health. The committee has recommended that Parliament give priority to certain organic production practices as a result of these findings.

The committee’s report, entitled “Human Health Implications of Organic Food and Organic Agriculture,” analyzed a wide range of other studies on the topic to reach its conclusions. Specifically, the report linked the consumption of organic food to improved early development and reduced pesticide exposure.

Conclusive evidence about the true impact of an organic diet on human health proved difficult to find, however; the study notes that “very few studies have directly addressed the effect of organic food on human health,” and studies that seem to show links between organic food and health have not always had enough scientific controls to be viable. The report cites, for example, the fact that consumers of organic food tend to have healthier general dietary patterns, thus making it difficult to link increased health to the consumption of organic food alone.

organic infographic

Nonetheless, some concrete distinctions in nutrition between organic and conventional crops were highlighted in the study, including a lower cadmium content in organic crops and a higher content of omega-3 fatty acids in organic milk and meat.

Report coordinator Axel Mie, a professor affiliated with both Karolinska Institutet and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, calls organic agriculture “a laboratory for the development of future healthy food systems.”

The research reviewed included studies on the health effects of organic food in humans, experimental in vitro and animal studies, research on pesticides and antibiotic resistant bacteria.

The report proposed five policy options going forward, ranging from “no action” to the pursuit of more intense EU policies for food safety and the support of organic agriculture by investing in research, development, innovation, and implementation.

Members of European Parliament who met in November to discuss organic agriculture noted that more research would likely be necessary to prove a truly conclusive link between the consumption of organic food and health.

JANUARY 27, 2017            by EMILY MONACO


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9 Reasons To Stop Eating Processed Foods

“There’s a lot of processed food in North America,
and I know that can make some tourists
who are used to fresh food feel sick.”
– Wolfgang Puck

Wolfgang Puck is a famous chef and restaurateur that was born in Austria. As a foreign-born food expert, Puck is knowledgeable in regards to the prolific presence of processed food that is unique to the United States and other countries. He is one among many experts that testify to the harmful nature of food that undergoes processing.

As a reference, processed food is defined as “any deliberate change in a food that occurs before it’s available for us to eat.” This rather ambiguous definition doesn’t identify what makes some (not all) processed foods harmful. Mechanical processing – the physical actions required to grow, harvest and produce foods – doesn’t alter the nature of food and isn’t harmful.

Chemical processing – altering the chemical makeup of foods through additives and other artificial substances – can indeed be harmful to one’s health. Artificial substances include sweeteners, preservatives and other elements. The inherent risk of such substances is a public safety concern in many countries, and for legitimate reasons.

HERE ARE NINE REASONS TO STOP EATING PROCESSED FOODS IMMEDIATELY:

1. PROCESSED FOODS CONTAIN DISPROPORTIONATE AMOUNTS OF SUGAR OR CORN SYRUP
Foods that contain sugar essentially contain empty calories. In other words, these calories provide no nutritional value. Studies have shown that these empty calories can have a harmful effect on the metabolism and cardiovascular system. The diabetes epidemic also strongly correlates with sugar consumption. Corn syrup, particularly of the high fructose variety, has been found to increase the risk of heart disease, cancer, obesity, dementia and liver failure.

2. PROCESSED FOODS CONTAIN TOO MANY ARTIFICIAL INGREDIENTS
Many ingredients listed on the labels of processed foods cannot be properly read. This is because these ingredients are chemicals, and most chemicals have unpronounceable names. Many additives and preservatives contribute to potentially harmful physical effects, from common fatigue to heart disease.

junk food

3. PROCESSED FOODS ARE HIGH IN REFINED CARBOHYDRATES
Refined carbohydrates are sugars and starches that have been modified (refined). The problem is that this refinement process empties the food of its nutritional value, including its fiber content.  Of course, many sugars and starches contribute to a number of adverse health conditions.

4. PROCESSED FOODS ARE USUALLY LACKING IN NUTRIENTS
The processing of food often empties the food of its nutritional value. Even though many of these foods are infused with synthetic (read: artificial) nutrients, the quality of nutrition derived from such is far superior compared to whole, unprocessed foods.

5. PROCESSED FOODS ARE LOW IN FIBER CONTENT
Fiber has many different roles to play in the development and maintenance of a healthy body. Primarily known to aid digestion, fiber also helps to: produce healthy bacteria, slow the absorption of carbohydrates, and create feelings of satiety.

6. PROCESSED FOODS HARM METABOLIC FUNCTION
Because of the chemical makeup of processed foods – absence of fiber, nutrition, satiety and sustenance – our digestive system and metabolism operate poorly. The cumulate effects result in more food consumed and less food energy expended. In other words, we eat more stuff and burn less fat and calories as a result of eating processed foods.

7. PROCESSED FOODS CONTAIN PESTICIDES
To grow and harvest GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms), farmers must use pesticides and herbicides to preserve the area where they are grown. Often, these pesticides and herbicides will penetrate both the soil and the crop itself. Needless to say, chemicals designed to eradicate insects and vegetation are not well-received by the human body. These chemicals have been linked to an assortment of functional and developmental problems, including cancer.

8. PROCESSED FOODS CAUSE INFLAMMATION
Various studies have shown that artificial ingredients such as processed flours, vegetable oils and refined sugars can cause or worsen cases of inflammation. Inflammation has been linked to a variety of maladies including dementia, respiratory problems and neurological disorders.

9. PROCESSED FOOD IS OFTEN HIGH IN TRANS-FAT OR VEGETABLE OIL
Hydrogenated oils such as vegetable oil often contain an excessive amount of Omega-6 fatty acids, which has been linked to inflammation and oxidation issues. Studies have demonstrated that these substances carry and increased risk of heart disease.

source: www.powerofpositivity.com    JULY 26, 2016


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Two Ways You And Your Family Can Help Minimize Your Cancer Risk

By: Care2 Healthy Living Guest Blogger David Benjamin    April 16, 2016

Disease affects all of our lives on some level or another. Our families are affected by it, our friends and co-workers too. Most people only see disease as either a distant potential future event, or something that affects their friends and family. Unfortunately, disease can become a part of our life overnight if we don’t take the right actions to live a healthy lifestyle each day.

Did you know that 41% of Americans are diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime? That’s right. In total, 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women are diagnosed with cancer in America, and those numbers don’t even include heart disease, strokes, diabetes, obesity and other life-threatening diseases.

My grandfather died of colon cancer within less than a month of diagnosis, at the time I was only 11 years old and saw his rapid decline. That same year my mom was also diagnosed with colon cancer, thankfully she survived and found the right people and solutions that helped her heal and bring her health back. Three of my four grandparents have died of cancer. These experiences have impacted me greatly and have pushed me to read through the research on environmental factors that cause cancer.

Thankfully with the latest science we can do much more than we could even a decade ago to prevent cancer and reduce our risk of developing it, and we’re starting to get a good idea of which chemicals and products are carcinogenic.

The U.S. Department Of Health And Human Services published a 240 page report on reducing environmental cancer risk that can be read here. “With nearly 80,000 chemicals on the market in the United States, many of which are used by millions of Americans in their daily lives and are un- or understudied and largely unregulated, exposure to potential environmental carcinogens is widespread,” the report explains.

These chemicals are prevalent in our environment, but what can you do? Stop supporting companies that produce these chemicals, for one. If a product contains carcinogens do you really want that in your home and around your children?

While some instances of cancer are unavoidable, there are things we can do to actively protect ourselves and our families:

Pesticides

1. Eat organic as often as possible.

Food that is organic is grown without synthetic pesticides and utilizes classic farming techniques to build healthy soil. The suffix ‘-cide’ literally means death. Synthetic pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and other forms of ‘cides’ are death for the crops that you eat as well as the soil surrounding it. This affects your health in a few ways. First, organic food doesn’t contain as high of a level of pesticides so you’re not ingesting these chemicals. What you eat determines your inner state of health. If you’re eating food grown in pesticides your body has to adapt and fight harder to stay healthier.

In animal studies it has been found that multiple forms of pesticides are carcinogenic, so why are we still eating so much food that contains them? Eating organic is the number one way to reduce your body’s overall pesticide load. Glyphosate, a pesticide used on many genetically engineered (GMO) foods was labeled “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Glyphosate was brought to the market by Monsanto under the product name ”Roundup.”

2. Avoid sprays designed to exterminate.

Ant sprays, roach sprays, mosquito sprays, flea and tick sprays should all be used with caution.  Sprays that are meant to kill bugs are also potentially going to weaken human health, because they are chemical concoctions formulated to incur death on a smaller species.

According to the New York Times, indoor studies relating to bug sprays (with 16 studies backing this) have proven that these chemicals lead to a 47% increased risk for childhood leukemia and a 43% increase in the risk of childhood lymphoma. Additionally outdoor pesticides used as weed killers were associated with a 26% increased risk for brain tumors.

What can you do? Use natural bug sprays or mixtures made from essential oils instead.

A good rule of thumb is to look at a label and look for any warning labels on the product. This is also a good indicator that using these products and inhaling the fumes is not beneficial for health. Solutions that are made from plant chemicals or compounds are often more eco-friendly to the environment as well.

Unfortunately, many products on the market today have not been tested for their cancer-causing potential. This is why making eco-healthy choices and healthy-friendly choices is the best route to take.

Using more of nature’s intelligence and fewer synthetic chemicals in your diet and lifestyle routine is ultimately the best choice for the health of your body, your family, and for dramatically reducing your risk of becoming another statistic on the wrong side of our “war against cancer.”

David Benjamin is the founder of HealthyWildAndFree.com, He writes about health, wellness, green living and sustainability. He also works with the Truth About Cancer documentary series to share and educate the public on understanding cancer, it’s causes and risks further and how to prevent it by making smarter, more earth friendly decisions.


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4 Reasons Why You Should Be Buying Organic

March 22, 2016    by nutriciously 

It seems like the new health-craze these days is called “organic food”. You can buy everything, from produce to breads, soda, and chocolate, in health food stores, all carrying the label “organic”.

But does this automatically mean it’s a healthy food? Far from it. Just like other labels, namely “gluten free” or “sugar free”, organic food is just a slightly different version of the same food we’ve been eating for a long time.

The organic market is growing fast and makes up 4% of the overall food market by now. Even the big conventional chains are now offering almost every type of food as an organic version too because the organic sales have almost quadrupled over the last 10 years! Clearly, people are more conscious about their food choices and asking for healthy alternatives.

But what is the definition of organic food? Besides the fact that it’s been produced sustainably, it also wasn’t treated with any artificial pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation.

Avoiding all of these will already improve your health quite a bit since you only feed your body what’s supposed to be nourishing. But when you give yourself permission to consume any food as long as it’s organic – you might just be fooling yourself.

Choose your food wisely
Organic chocolate is still made with heaps of sugar and fat, organic chips are still fried, organic red meat is still a carcinogen, and organic soda is basically just sugary bubbly water. Although you will be getting less chemical contamination, your body still wants to eat natural and healthful food.

So when deciding which foods you should buy, go for a healthy basis first. Is it nourishing? Is it full of antioxidants? Does it provide you with clean fuel? Will it have any harmful effects?

Not only can this save you a lot of health issues – it will also be beneficial to your wallet because simple whole foods are the cheapest on the market.

That being said, of course you should try to buy your food from an organic brand as often as possible. A 2014 study conducted in Melbourne found that eating organic for only one week reduces urine pesticide levels by almost 90 %. So this makes a huge difference!

fruit vegetables

Here are the top 4 reasons you should buy organic:

Nutritional Value
Some studies have shown that organic foods contain 19 – 69 % higher amounts of antioxidants than their conventional counterparts. This makes perfect sense since they haven’t been treated with or protected by any pesticides or herbicides and, therefore, need to be much more resilient. This is the exact feature that helps our bodies become more resilient as well and fight off disease!

Taste
This is of course a subjective matter, but it goes to show that more and more gourmet chefs start to choose organic because of the superior taste and quality. And many customers agree! One of the top reasons for buying organic is the perceived better taste. This is especially true for produce that was derived from local farms close to where it’s sold – so it had the chance to ripen properly and unfold its full flavor.

Chemical exposure
When you minimize the intake of disease-causing pesticides, you can do your health a great favor. The chemicals we’re exposed to when consuming conventional food are linked to headaches, nausea, even cancer and nerve damage! Even though we might not be able to avoid all toxins that surround us, we can at least look out for those that are obvious and easy to get rid of. What’s more, many conventional foods are GMOs, which have been shown to lead to problems when tested on animals. Better not take the risk

Sustainability
Organic farming aims to reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy. This means it’s far better for the environment and can produce healthier food for a longer time without depleting the soil. Since no artificial pesticides are being used, this technique is also better for all animals as well as humans living nearby or even working on the farms.

So what should you do with this information now? Go all out and spend a lot of money at a health food store?

Even if you’re on a tight budget, you can improve your diet and decrease your chemical exposure by opting for organic foods when it comes to apples, potatoes, spinach, or tomatoes. Other produce isn’t as contaminated, like avocado, cauliflower, mangoes, or onions.


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Why Going Organic Matters For Your Family

By Alan Greene, MD, FAAP Pediatrician and Author

Posted on 10/03/2012     By Alan Greene, MD, FAAP

Recent headlines blared that a new study had found that organic foods weren’t any healthier for you than conventional food. Researchers at Stanford University recently released a study that questioned the nutritional benefits of buying organic foods. The study found very little nutritional difference between organic and conventional produce and meat. But let’s a closer look behind the headlines.

Today’s children, from infancy up to age 5, in the US have lost more than 16 million IQ points from exposure to organophosphate pesticides, according to another recent analysis. They’re exposed to these pesticides almost entirely through our food.

Organic foods are grown without the use of toxic synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, artificial hormones, or genetic engineering. They depend on cultivating healthy soil to grow healthy plants to produce healthy animals.

The study in question wasn’t new science, but a compilation and analysis of some of the existing studies comparing organic to conventional food. What did this paper find?

Pesticides

Findings: Conventional produce is more than five times more likely than organic to have any pesticide residues (38% of samples versus 7%).

The study didn’t go a step further and consider that when pesticides are found on conventional produce, the pesticides are often more toxic, present at higher levels, and come as mixtures of different chemicals.

The study also didn’t include the large body of literature about the toxic effects of some of these pesticides.

The authors concluded that this five-fold difference in pesticides couldn’t matter because the total amounts are so small. I strongly disagree. Think about this: Pharmaceutical drugs are powerful, refined chemicals designed to improve health. They can have desired health effects on our brain function, sexual function, and fertility at concentrations in our bodies of only parts per billion. Synthetic pesticides are also powerful, refined chemicals, but designed to destroy or inhibit life. Why couldn’t they have undesirable health effects on our brain function, sexual function, and fertility when present in our bodies at similar concentrations?

organics

Today, almost all of us carry synthetic pesticides in our blood – pesticides that get there through our food. This is true even in babies at the moment of birth. I participated in a study with the Environmental Working Group where we analyzed umbilical cord blood – we found pesticides in every baby tested.  To be more specific, 21 different synthetic pesticides were present in babies’ blood.

One group of pesticides, the organophosphates, were produced as nerve agents during World War II. We still have much to learn about their health effects, but higher levels of exposure have been linked to lower IQ, memory problems, developmental problems, and ADHD.

The 16 million IQ points lost in young children from organophosphates carries a price tag of more than $169 billion in lost productivity when they grow up. And we take out a new debt of $28-30 billion every year – about the same amount as the total amount of money spent on organic food each year in the US.

Choosing organic food can drop a child’s organophosphate pesticide exposure almost overnight. In another study, suburban Seattle children had their urine tested multiple times for evidence of organophosphate pesticides; it was present in all samples, suggesting exposure above what the EPA set as a safe level. Then the children were switched to mostly organic food. The pesticides disappeared. They were virtually undetectable in morning and evening urine samples for five days. Then the children were switched back to their typical suburban diet and the levels found in their urine shot back up.

The EPA says, “Protecting children from the potential effects of pesticides is one of EPA’s most important responsibilities. Pesticides have widespread uses and may affect children’s health in a variety of settings. We recognize that children are at greater risk from pesticide exposure.”

Choosing organic is a choice for decreasing toxic pesticides in our air, water, and farms – as well as on our plates and in our children.

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Findings: When you buy conventional food, you are three times more likely to bring multi-drug resistant bacteria into your home than when buying organic (48.4% of samples versus 15.9%).

The authors found this difference, but concluded it was unimportant because they thought bacterial resistance is fueled primarily by human antibiotic use. Resistant bacteria are emerging as a major health threat.

According to the FDA, “Today, almost all important bacterial infections in the United States and throughout the world are becoming resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world’s most pressing public health problems. The smart use of antibiotics is the key to controlling the spread of resistance.”

We know what causes resistance: When bacteria are exposed to antibiotics, they develop ways to survive, making them more resistant to antibiotics.

We also know that the routine use of antibiotics in our conventional livestock to fatten them up dwarfs the amount of antibiotics used to treat all human diseases. The FDA recognizes the problem and has asked for drug companies to voluntarily remove agricultural production use from their antibiotic product labels, but widespread antibiotic use continues in conventional agriculture.

The most highly resistant bacteria discovered so far were found not in hospitals or clinics, but in the soil.

Organic food, which doesn’t allow the use of antibiotics, is part of the solution to resistant bacteria – in our environment and in our own homes.

Conclusion

The headlines trumpeted that organic isn’t worth extra money. The study in question found a five-fold difference in pesticides and a three-fold difference in multi-drug resistant bacteria (plus significantly higher healthy omega-3 fats in organic food). It didn’t even look at differences related to the use of artificial hormones or genetic engineering – or of artificial colorings, preservatives, and sweeteners in processed foods.

Every bite of food is an investment in our bodies – or a debt of some kind that we will have to pay back. Good food – organic food – is a delicious investment.