Pesticides and Health

The Pesticide Action Network North America says that a number of pesticides are associated with serious health issues such as birth defects and even cancer.

Ever had a salad made with vegetables just picked from a garden? If you haven’t, you’re missing out! The taste of freshly picked, organic vegetables is like no other, much different than the vegetables bought from a grocery store.

Most of the time, these vegetables are on their last legs, having traveled hundreds, sometimes thousands of “food miles” on a ship and/or refrigerated truck. As they sit on those vehicles and under the fluorescent lights of the grocery store, they sadly lose their nutritional content, missing the rich, healthy soil they once called home.

Okay. Now that you’ve heard the sad life of the store-bought vegetable, have you ever thought of growing your own vegetable garden? According to many sources, growing your own food may be worth more than just great tasting food.

The Pesticide Action Network North America says that a number of pesticides are associated with serious health issues such as neurological damage, birth defects, developmental and behavioral issues such as autism and ADHD and even certain types of cancer. Two of the worst offending pesticides are atrazine and dursban. Atrazine, used on corn, sugarcane and grain crops, is banned in France, Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Exposure to this widely used pesticide can cause cardiovascular damage, muscle spasms and adrenal gland damage, among other things. Dursban, used on apples, corn, cotton, almonds, alfalfa, oranges and walnuts, can cause excessive salivation, nausea, diarrhea, headaches and convulsions. The EPA has banned most non-agricultural uses of dursban, such as in flea collars and to get rid of termites.

Ways to Reduce Pesticide Ingestion

Eat Locally

Buying fresh produce from the farmer down the road was once a common practice in America (mostly out of necessity). But the birth of the supermarket and commercial farms meant the near-death of the home garden and local farmer.

But now, many are seeing the benefits of eating locally. Studies show that locally grown harvest is better nutritionally. Smaller, locally run farms tend to use less pesticides and chemicals on their plants than some of the bigger, commercially driven farms. (Source: Sustainabletable.org, October 2010)

Buy Organic

With many keeping more of their money in tough financial times, buying all organic can be a challenge. Instead of buying all organic, eliminate produce with the heaviest residue.
The “Dirty Dozen” list

Those that test for the highest pesticide residue, are:

*Worst first

1. Peaches
2. Apples
3. Bell peppers
4. Celery
5. Nectarines
6. Strawberries
7. Cherries
8. Kale
9. Lettuce
10. Grapes (imported)
11. Carrots
12. Pears

The “Clean 15”

Those with the least amount of pesticide residue are:

*Best first

1. Onion
2. Avocado
3. Sweet corn
4. Pineapple
5. Mango
6. Asparagus
7. Sweet peas
8. Kiwi
9. Cabbage
10. Eggplant
11. Papaya
12. Watermelon
13. Broccoli
14. Tomato
15. Sweet potatoes

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