Here’s why this is a REALLY important topic and not one you should brush off as just the latest fad…
From 2006-2013, the money Canadian consumers spent on organic products TRIPLED, far outpacing growth in other food sectors. The trend since then has likely continued and grown even more. While some may say that organic has gotten trendy, and there’s no doubt about that, the reason that I encourage organic consumption of as much of your food as possible are for majorly important reasons that go far beyond it being “in style.”
There has been much research done into whether or not claims of nutrient content differences are significant between conventional vs organically produced food, but guess what, little of that matters to me. It does appear (again depending on the study) that some nutrient levels are higher in organically produced crops (see references below) which is great, but there’s far more at risk than a little extra bioflavonoids or minerals here or there.
What Actually Matters
What most of the studies fail to account for, are all of the other concerns—the harms and concerns associated with pesticide, fungicide and herbicide exposure to people consuming the produce and the harms and concerns associated with exposure to the environment and wildlife (never mind the farmers spraying this stuff!).
There are studies literally coming out on a daily basis about some of the health concerns for people surrounding exposure to pesticides like organophosphates or herbicides like Roundup.
Common Conditions Linked to Exposure
- Decreased IQ and brain changes: Prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides linked to decreased IQ in children by age 7 and physical changes in brain structure
- ADHD: Urinary metabolites of organophosphate pesticides found in higher levels in kids with ADHD
- Poor Sperm Quality: adverse effects on sperm quality and sperm DNA changes linked to exposure of pyrethroid insecticide
- Female Cancer: Breast, ovarian and thyroid cancers were seen in higher incidents in women with increased exposure to organophosphates
- Liver and Kidney Damage: found in animals studies when exposed to ultradose Roundup herbicide
- Hormone Disruption: many pesticides and herbicides have been found to cause endocrine disruption and mess with hormones
- Weight Gain: classified as “obesogens,” many pesticides and herbicides have also been linked to increases in weight
- Childhood Cancers: Blood cancers in particular have been linked with at-home use of pesticides
- The list goes on and on!
Avoidance is KEY
There are actually a ton of ways that you can avoid these concerns in a major way! Obviously the first way is to do your best to buy organic products as much as possible, but there are still concerns with organic products depending on who was doing the certifying and what they’re still spraying, etc. Definitely check out local farmer’s markets and ask LOTS of questions, or if you’re able to, have your own garden at home or check out local garden plots that you may be able to rent for the growing season. The other option is to be really specific with which produce you purchase organic and which may be safer to purchase from normally grown crops.
EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15
If you haven’t heard of the Environmental Working Group yet, definitely check them out! When it comes to Environmental Medicine issues, they’re definitely at the top of their game. Although not related to food, also check out another one of their websites called Skin Deep where they go through and rank cosmetics and body products for their safety.
Each year, the Environmental Working Group tests 48 types of conventionally produced fruits and vegetables to see how much pesticide residue is left over on them after harvesting.
Organic can be an expensive monthly venture, so I always encourage (like the EWG) that if you can’t afford to purchase all of your produce organic, at LEAST make sure to purchase the Dirty Dozen organic, and you can feel much safer about buying the “clean 15” that’s been conventionally produced.
Key Findings in the 2017 Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 List
- More than 98% of samples of strawberries, spinach, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apples tested positive for residue of at least one pesticide
- A single sample of strawberries showed 20 different pesticides
- Spinach samples had, on average, twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop
- Only 1% of samples of sweet corn and avocadoes showed any detectable pesticides
- More than 80% of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbage had no pesticide residues
Like always, Environmental Medicine is a PROCESS and I don’t expect you to change things overnight. Do a little digging, ask lots of questions and slowly change your habits for the better. Your body, healthy and happiness will certainly thank you!
Ask for Support!
If you’re interested in learning more or want help to support detox your body from some of what you’ve been exposed to, definitely book in to see me and we can go through it all!