From Dr. Mercola:
Vegetables and fruits are among the healthiest foods you can eat, but they’re also foods that are commonly contaminated with pesticides.
According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 75 percent of the U.S. population has detectable levels of organophosphate pesticides in their urine, and unless you’re a farmer, your diet is one of the most likely routes of exposure.1
Eating organic is one of the best ways to lower your overall pesticide burden. In one recent study, those who “often or always” ate organic had about 65 percent lower levels of pesticide residues compared to those who ate the least amount of organic produce.2
Eating an all-organic diet is the ideal – but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Not everyone has access to organic foods or the resources necessary to buy them (organic foods aren’t always more expensive than conventionally grown foods, but they tend to cost about 20 percent to 100 percent more3).
If you can’t go all organic, picking and choosing carefully, and opting for organic versions of heavily contaminated foods and conventional versions of “cleaner” food items, is the next best strategy.
Why It’s Important to Minimize Your Pesticide Exposure
The U.S. uses about 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides each year,4 and it’s not uncommon for your apple or strawberries to contain two different pesticides, or more.
While in the U.S. tolerance levels are set that determine upper allowable limits for individual pesticides, there is no legal limit on the number of different pesticides allowed on food.
The effects of these chemical cocktails are unknown, but concern is warranted, especially since adults and children alike are exposed to low doses for a lifetime. Nick Mole of the Pesticide Action Network U.K. (PAN U.K.) told The Telegraph:5
“Around 60 percent of fruit and vegetables contain pesticide residue Eating an apple isn’t going to kill you obviously, but it’s the long-term effects of low doses that we don’t know about.
Foods with traces of more than one pesticide are potentially the biggest concern, says Mole, who suggests anyone considering switching to organic should prioritize these.”
The CHAMACOS Study is among those showing that very small amounts of pesticides may be harmful, in this case to kids’ brains. It followed hundreds of pregnant women living in Salinas Valley, California, an agricultural mecca that has had up to a half-million pounds of organophosphates sprayed in the region per year.
The children were followed through age 12 to assess what impact the pesticides had on their development.6 It turns out the impact was quite dramatic, and mothers’ exposure to organophosphates during pregnancy was associated with:7
Shorter duration of pregnancy Poorer neonatal reflexes Lower IQ and poorer cognitive functioning in children Increased risk of attention problems in children
Brenda Eskenazi, chief investigator of the CHAMACOS study, also noted that the effects of combined chemical exposures need further attention:8
“The other thing we don’t know