The Pesty Pesticides
Today I want to speak a little bit about pesticides. What are they and how does it affect our foods? Are they really harmful and should we avoid them? If you are like me, I can get overwhelmed with all of the info and need to hear the basics. So here are the basics that help me make choices when it comes to the produce I purchase.
What are Pesticides?
Substances used for destroying insects or other organisms harmful to cultivated plants or to animals.
How do pesticides affect our foods?
The US uses 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides a year, but only .01% of it actually reach the bugs they are meant to kill. The rest ends up contaminating our food, air and water. According to the Environmental Working Group at least 1 pesticide remains on 63% of commonly purchased produce, even after it was properly washed.
Are pesticides harmful?
Pesticides have been linked to the following health problems:
Skin, eye, and lung irritation
Hormone disruption (can lead to early onset puberty)
Brain & Nervous system toxicity
Affects reproductive system
Should we avoid pesticides?
Overall, my conclusion from the data beyond this post is that when possible, avoid them.
How do we avoid them?
The easiest way to avoid them is choosing Organic produce. Organic means that no pesticides have been used on the crop from which the produce came from. Another solution is to visit a local farmers market and get to know the farmers near you. Many local farmers cultivate the land and use organic processes to grow their produce. In a world with lots of controversy over Organic or conventional methods of producing food, you can take the time to talk directly with the farmer and see what is important. Purchasing locally can often be cheaper as well.
What about my Budget?
If your budget doesn’t allow you to purchase everything Organic, then consider washing your fruits and vegetables with a natural solution. Also consider eating your produce seasonally. When a fruit or vegetable is in season you can get Organic for almost the same price as the conventional produce. This will allow you to stretch your budget over time. One of my favorite tools my clients and I use is the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists you can download from the EWG for free! They show the 12 fruits and veggies most affected by pesticides and 15 that aren’t affected as much. When buying Organic gets tight, make your buying choice from these lists.
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