Before World War 2 most farming was organic. It wasn’t until after the war that farming became more industrialized utilizing billions of pounds of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and animal drugs (OCA).
Organic pesticides are derived from plant, animal, and mineral sources. Though, not all organic pesticides are safe. Nicotine, copper compounds, tetracycline and streptomycin, are examples of not so safe organic pesticides. Though, some studies have shown no side effects- there hasn’t been much research on how harmful they can be. Organic pesticides have only been regulated for the past 8 years, so there is lots missing information. However, synthetic pesticides come from petroleum or other chemical sources which can have serious side effects. They are known to cause major health problems. They also remain toxic in the environment for months and even years. Which is leading to double exposure.
DDT was used in the 60’s and was banned in the early 70’s, yet it still can be detected in the environment and in our blood today. DDT has been linked to severe health problems and was even used in most households. More and more conventional pesticides are being linked to brain damage, ADD/ADHD, cancer, and other major health concerns. Children are at more of a risk since their bodies can’t break down the chemicals as fast as adults, their metabolic rates are more rapid, the pesticides pass through critical developmental stages, they absorb up to 10 times more than adults, they are lower to the ground and inhale more toxic fumes, and they tend to play more in the contaminated dirt (EPA, OCA).
Once a synthetic pesticide has been sprayed, it can leach into the surface water and even the air. This can pollute well water, ground water, and even lakes and rivers. Fish and birds are especially at risk for becoming contaminated with the pesticide. By eating the contaminated animal, you and other creatures are consuming more of the pesticide doubling your exposure levels. The EPA now considers 60% of all herbicides, 90% of all fungicides, and 30% of all insecticides to be potentially carcinogenic or able to cause cancer.
EWG research has found that people who eat the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables (Peaches, Apples, Sweet bell peppers, Celery, Nectarines, Strawberries, Cherries, Lettuce, Grapes (imported), Blueberries Spinach, Potatoes) an average of 10 pesticides a day. Those who eat the 15 least contaminated conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables (Avocados, Corn, Onions, Sweet Potatoes, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Peas, Honey Dew, Eggplant, Watermelon, Grape Fruit, Pineapples, Mango, Kiwi, Cabbage) ingest fewer than 2 pesticides daily. The EPA as well as the USDA Pesticide Data Program, Marketplace Surveillance Program of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, and private tests by the Consumers Union have done pesticide residue studies with very similar results. The EPA even goes into detail about each pesticide detected in the food products.
Scientists and government agencies do not know what levels of pesticide exposure can endanger the health of adults, let alone the effects on children. We do know that children break down chemicals differently and are more at risk for toxic exposure. So when you hear the argument that only a small percent of chemicals was on the produce, you can’t take that for true value since we don’t know what is harmful.
The EWG had been doing a study for the past 9 years on the 49 most popular fruits and vegetables. They tested each food at least 100 times and listed them in order of the most pesticide residue detected after washing/peeling. They in no way mean for you to stop eating the fruit or vegetable if you cannot afford organic. They also do not say that any fruit or vegetable is healthier or more nutritious. The Dirty Dozen was not built on a complex assessment of pesticide risks, but reflects the chemical load. The EWG said, “This approach best captures the uncertainties of the risks of pesticide exposure and gives shoppers confidence that when they follow the guide they are buying foods with consistently lower overall levels of pesticide contamination.”
A study released this month by the Environmental Health Perspectives suggests that more than one-quarter of the food children eat contain pesticides. Researchers found 14 varieties of pesticides in the fruits, vegetables, and juices they tested. The FDA has found 16 pesticides in 8 industry leading baby foods, including 3 carcinogens (OCA). But even before birth babies are being exposed. Scientist have detected 201 known and suspected carcinogens in cord blood (EWG). The US Department of Health and Human Services said organophosphate pesticides are now found in the blood of 95% of Americans tested. OPs kill by attacking the nervous systems of insect pests. Ops are linked to hyperactivity, behavior disorders, learning disabilities, developmental delays, motor disfunction, obesity, and cancer.
The EWG says that 4 out of 10 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes and 2 out of 10 will die of it. The scary part is a report published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology predicts patients in need of radiation therapy will increase by 22 percent in ten years. But the number of radiation oncologists is only expected to increase 2 percent. So if we keep eating conventional foods and continue to support conventional household and personal care products there may not be enough Dr.’s to treat everyone.
Other Scary Stuff About Conventional Foods
GMOs (genetically modified organisms) make up 75% of conventionally processed foods (Non-GMO Project). GMOs are organisms which the DNA have been altered to something that doesn’t occur naturally. An example would be to inject vegetable DNA with a pesticide protein, which will eventually develop into a plant that would be used to grow GM crops. By changing the DNA, the whole molecular structure is being altered and we do not truly know what that is doing to the nutrition value of the food. The FDA does not require labeling, so you can’t tell if you are purchasing GMOs unless you buy certified organic. And because of cross contamination, very few products in the U.S. are completely free of GMOs- even if they are organic.
The Grist reported that Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” GM seeds (mainly used for soy, cotton, corn, canola, and sugar beets) are having major issues with killing superweeds. Monsanto is paying farmers that have used Roundup Ready $6 per acre if they use at least 2 other herbicides on their GM crops. Roundup is made with glyphosate, the most commonly used herbicide. Weeds have built up resistance due to the overuse. Now the crops are having to be doused with even more chemicals doing more harm to the environment and humans.
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine reported that multiple GMO animal testing studies have shown significant immune dysregulation, including asthma, allergy, inflammation, altered structure and function of the liver, as well as cellular changes that could lead to accelerated aging. Changes in the kidney, pancreas and spleen have also been documented from GMO food.
Irradiation is a common procedure (which is deemed safe by the FDA) that nukes meat, fruits, and veggies with radioactive materials that kill bacteria and prolong shelf life. Irradiating began in 1916 by testing on a strawberry. Little progress was made until the “Atoms for Peace Program” began in 1953. The public began paying attention to nuclear power instead of nuclear weapons. Wheat Flour was one of the first foods to become regulated irradiated. White potatoes, spices, herbs, herb teas, pork, fruits and vegetables, poultry, beef, refrigerated or frozen raw beef, pork, lamb, and poultry, eggs, seeds, imported fruits and vegetables, and meat purchased by the Nation School Lunch Program (OCA) followed approval.
There are 2 types of irradiation, e-beam and nuclear. E-beam uses an electron gun to send high speed electrons into a food (OCA). The electrons damage the DNA of the food as well as bacteria (good and bad) which created free radicals and new chemicals. Nuclear irradiation uses nuclear materials that emit high speed gamma rays. E-beam combines gamma rays and x-ray radiation.
Products that have been irradiated must be labeled, but it can be tricky to find the wording or radura. You might be able to see the wording written in tiny text somewhere on the package or the radura seal. Some butchers might have it displayed on the counter. But, multiple ingredient products that not all were irradiated will not have the wording. Nor will spices, herbs, herbal teas, sprouts, irradiated foods found in restaurants, fast food, delis, salad bars, hospitals, schools, nursing homes, airlines, or take out counters. The FDA has tried several times to stop the irradiation labeling. So you might see some terms like, “electronically pasteurized” or “cold pasteurized.”
Sewer sludge has become the mainstream fertilizer. Sewer sludge is the “cleaned” sewer remains which contains a toxic blend of heavy metals, synthetic organic compounds, pathogens, flame retardants, toxic teflon residues, pharmaceuticals, and radioactive contaminants which come from industrial plants, hospital waste, agricultural run-off, and other known and unknown sources. The EPA only requires treatment plants to kill off any fecal coliforms in the sludge and ensure that nine heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, molybdenum, selenium and zinc) are not present in unacceptable levels.
Food grown in sewer sludge doesn’t have to be labeled. So you will not know (unless you buy organic) that what you are eating was grown in sludge. You should especially avoid foods from China due to their growing black market sewer oil trade. The Grist reports that Chinese restaurants are dumping oil and black marketers are fishing out the oil for reuse. Dongping, professor of food science engineering at Wuhan Polytechnic University, found that 10% of meals cooked across China use oil that has been reprocessed from discarded kitchen waste.