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Blowing the Lid Off Pesticides

Updated on November 9, 2013

Ever wonder what's on your food before ingesting? Are you sure that even after washing and peeling your fresh produce, will it still be safe to eat? Last week on the Dr. Oz show, the topic of discussion was pesticides. Most farmers do not want the consumers to know that most produce that are found in groceries are peppered with harmful pesticides. By definition, pesticides are toxic chemicals that can harm the body. It is used to kill insects and weeds. Some farmers resort to organic farming by protecting their crops with the use of buffer zones so as not to contaminate their crops with pesticides used by other farmers.

Most farmers use genetically modified crops. They are designed to be strong. The farming industry accidentally created super weeds and super bugs that are resistant to pesticides. This scenario is analogous to the use of antibiotics. When we overuse the antibiotics, the diseases can become resistant. Over the years, the government has raised the amount of pesticides placed on food.

Elisabeth Leamy, a consumer reporter revealed that most corn and soybeans are genetically modified. According to researches, 80% of processed foods contain those genetically modified ingredients. These GMO's are contributing to the rise in pesticide use. Michael Hansen PHD and Senior Scientist of Consumer Reports stated that in the first 16 years of using GMO crops, 500,000,000 lbs weed killers were sprayed on engineered crops than on non- engineered crops. This is due to the fact that the spraying of these weed killers created weeds that are resistant to the main weed killers. Some farmers are using pesticides twice as much. There is a dramatic rise in the use of pesticides. In 1989, 1.5 million pounds of pesticides were used. In 2011, 90 million lbs. of pesticides were used in that year.

Leamy mentioned that you can reduce the risks of harmful pesticides on your food by going organic. It was discovered that there are 94% fewer health risks if we switch to organic produce. Leamy juxtaposed conventional produce with organic food. Conventional and organic food have similar nutritional content. But conventional foods have higher amount of pesticides compared to organic produce. Dr. Oz said that 75% of Americans say that pesticides are their number one food concern. A startling discovery was reveled on the show. Dr.Oz said that there is no limit on the number of pesticides they can put on our food. Dr.Oz was concerned how these chemicals interact with one another. Pesticides can wreak havoc on our body. The brain, if it is exposed to harmful chemicals can lead to ADHD and learning disabilities in infants. These pesticides can influence how brain cells can interact with one another. The reproductive system is also vulnerable. Pesticides are linked to birth defects and miscarriage. The digestive system is also not spared. When we ingest pesticides, it can damage the intestines and might result to food allergies. It can also lead to diseases such as cancer and lymphoma. The people who are at risk are the elderly, children, and pregnant women.

Leamy said that we can avoid eating these pesticides. We should steer clear of the "Dirty Dozen". These foods are apple, celery, grapes, nectarines, peaches, potato, cucumber, spinach, strawberries, and pepper.

Apples- The pesticides are found on top and the bottom area of the fruit. The pesticides travel from the stem down to the core.

Celery- The dirtiest part is at the bottom where water is collected. Chop it off before cooking.

Grapes, cherry tomatoes, nectarines such as peaches are susceptible to pesticides because they have a thin skin. Potatoes are also loaded with pesticides.

Cucumbers are laced with 35 different pesticides.

Spinach- They are grown on the ground and they drink pesticides through its stalks.

Strawberries- Farmers use pesticides on these fruits to ward off bugs.

Peppers- Both sweet and hot peppers have the most number of pesticides.

Kate Geagan MS RD, a nutritionist claimed that washing and peeling are not enough to ward off the pesticides in food. She provided two tips on how to avoid pesticides on our food. First, we can still buy these products, but we have to select organic. Second, we can swap these foods for the "Clean 15". The fruits and vegetables that are included in the Clean 15 are avocado, cantaloupe, corn, mango, eggplant, kiwi, mushrooms, onions, papayas, cabbage, frozen peas, sweet potato, pineapple, and grapefruit.

You can swap strawberries for pineapple because a pineapple has fewer pesticides residue. Instead of using potatoes which are the commonly consumed vegetables, you can try sweet potatoes for they only contain less than %1 of pesticides. Green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach could be replaced by cabbage which has less pesticide and more antioxidants and phytochemicals.

Pesticides can also be found on meat. Animals eat pesticide laden food that goes into their digestive system. Lean meats have fewer pesticides than fatty meat because fat attracts pesticide. Ground beef and chicken thighs have higher risks of pesticides because they are considered fatty meat. Chicken breast, pork, and luncheon meat are considered low risk.

There are two tips that can avoid the amount of pesticides in meat. First, choose lean cuts of meat. Second, tell the person on the meat counter to give you 4lbs. of meat instead of 6 lbs. so that you can afford organic meat.

Unfortunately,pesticides are not only used to repel insects, but they are also used in our food. We have to be vigilant in buying fresh produce because there are chemicals induced in these foods that may harm our body. These pesticides are linked to diseases that could be fatal and damage our entire system. The solutions are plain and simple. Go organic and swap the dirty dozen for healthier alternatives.


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