It is hardly surprising that chemicals strong enough to kill insects and plant infections can be harmful to the human body and environment. There are literally hundreds of permitted pesticides, insectisides, fungicides, hormones, antibiotics and other chemical additives present in non-organic food, not to mention food additives and flavourings introduced after cultivation and in food processing. All important reasons for eating organic food.
Over 3,000 high-risk toxins are present in the US food supply, which by law are excluded from organic food. These include 73 pesticides classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as potential carcinogens. Pesticides also leak into the water supply – for example, a 1996 study by the Environmental Working Group found 96 per cent of all water samples taken from 748 towns across the US contained the pesticide atrazine.
Toxic metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury enter the food supply through industrial pollution of soil and groundwater and through machinery used in the processing and packaging of foods. For example, lead solder used to seal tin cans imparts residue into the food, despite the adversity to health. Cadmium has links with lung, prostate and testicular cancer and mercury is toxic to brain cells and has been linked to autism and Alzheimer’s disease. Heavy metals damage nerve function, block haemoglobin production causing anaemia and contribute to lower IQ and diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Organic food safe-guard’s against toxic metals.
Solvents are also used in commercially processed foods which can damage white blood cells, lowering immune defence. Further, the solvents benzene and toluene, have known links with numerous cancers.
Produce imported from developing countries may contain agrochemicals that have been outlawed in developed countries.
Other agricultural chemicals have been found to be deleterious to cell health, such as PCP (pentachlorophenol) that can cause DNA fragmentation in animals, as well as numerous other chemicals found to damage cellular membranes and negatively effect the functioning of mitochondria. These include the insecticide endosulfan and the herbicide paraquat, as well as chemicals 2-4-D, prathion and dinoseb. Pesticides such as chlopyrifos, endrin and fenthion have been shown to over stimulate certain enzymes involved in chemical signalling, causing imbalance that has been linked to inflammatory conditions, psoriasis and atherosclerosis.
Children at risk
Organic foods may be vitally important to protect children from the damaging effects of these toxic contaminants. Two separate reports, from the Natural Resources Defence Council (1989) and the Environmental Working Group (1998), revealed that millions of American children were exposed to levels of pesticides from food that exceeded limits considered to be safe. These include neuro-toxins that can be hazardous to the developing brain and nervous system, as well as potential carcinogens that some researchers believe can be a particular risk to children and adolescents during periods of high growth and breast development. The Benefits of Organic Foods
Organic fruits and vegetables grown from clean, natural soil with a rich and balanced mineral content, are not only free from chemical contaminants, but win hands down with regard to flavour and offer a fuller range of nutrients. Non-organic equivalents contain more water and less vitamins and minerals. Danish research published in the August 2003 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry revealed significantly higher amounts of flavonoids in the urine and blood samples of those on an organically-grown as opposed to conventionally-grown diet.
10 reasons to go organic.
The Soil Association, a UK-based registered charity and organic certifying body, lists 10 reasons for going organic. These are:
1. To protect future generations
2. To pay the real cost of real food
3. To have an independent guarantee
4. to protect water quality
5. To enjoy greater flavour and nutrition
6. To keep chemicals off your plate
7. To reduce global warming and save energy
8. To prevent soil erosion
9. To help small farmers
10. To help restore biodiversity
12 Best and Worst Non-Organic Foods:
It might not always be possible to get the organically grown fruit and vegetables you desire, in which case, the Environmental Working Group have highlighted the 12 cleanest and 12 riskiest non-organic foods as listed below.
12 Cleanest non-organic foods:
Asparagus, Avocados, Bananas, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Corn (though avoid genetically modified corn), Kiwi, Mangoes, Onions, Papaya, Pineapples, Peas
12 riskiest non-organic foods:
Apples, Bell Peppers, Celery, Cherries, Grapes, Nectarines, Peaches, Pears, Potatoes, Raspberries, Spinach, Strawberries
As well as changing to organic food in your diet, be sure to add plenty of superfoods! Superfoods are the kings and queens of the plant kingdom with miraculous benefits – the most potent, anti aging, antioxidant rich, nutrient dense, disease fighting, beautifying, immune boosting, mood enhancing foods on the planet!
These include organic vegetables like spinach and brocolli that may already feature in your diet, to more unusual foods, like bee pollen, goji berries or coconut oil. Organic coconut oil can actually speed up your metabolism and help you loose weight! It is also anti-microbial and fights against bacteria, viruses and funghi. There are numerous other superfoods, from the more common to unusual members of the plant kingdom.