This post goes hand in hand with my post on Avoiding GMO’s last week. I know everyone wants to know how my diet has changed and this is a big part of it. It is easier (I think) to start this journey out by avoiding things first, and removing things later.
One thing we all have in common with our health challenges is that we are ingesting too many toxins. Believe me I thought this was all just a bunch of hype too, until I started seeing the differences in my health once they were removed. Besides pollutants on fresh produce, 94 to 99 percent of our exposure to cancer-causing and hormone-disrupting, persistent organic pollutants, such as PCBs and pesticides, come from diet.
Pesticides are found on almost everything, from strawberries to eggs to spinach. At least 58 active ingredients, used in 1,127 pesticide products available in Canada, have been banned in other developed countries. Among these pesticides are some of the most heavily used household and garden pesticide products in Canada, such as the herbicides atrazine (an endocrine disruptor) and 2,4-D (a possible human carcinogen). The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) recommends a total ban on synthetic pesticides in Canada. “We’re especially concerned about the link between pesticides [used for lawn, garden, and agriculture] and blood cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, birth defects, and Parkinson’s disease,” says Gideon Forman, executive director of CAPE.
Two recent studies found numerous pesticides in the blood and urine of Canadians across the country. Health concerns associated with chronic exposure to pesticides include increased risk of cancer, organ damage, birth defects, and Parkinson’s disease. A study reported in the Annals of Neurology in 2006 found that exposure to pesticides–even at low levels–can increase a person’s risk of developing Parkinson’s by 70 percent.
There is a growing body of science also suggests organic food may be nutritionally superior. For example, Organic Center’s chief scientist Charles Benbook’s 2005 review of research on health-promoting and disease-fighting antioxidant levels found that, on average, antioxidant levels in organic produce were 30 percent higher than conventionally grown food.
Understanding organic labeling can be challenging, and when you’re in the grocery store will add to the cost of your produce if you plan to go 100% organic. The best is to know which foods you really need to buy as organic (The Dirty Dozen) and which foods tend to be the least affected by pesticides (The Clean 15).
Also note that GMO produce cannot be labelled as organic, but there are foods on the Clean 15 list that could be GMO’s ( * )so be careful of that. This is when you need to refer back to the food labeling.
Those stickers on fruits and veggies tell you quite a bit:
- 4 numbers mean they were conventionally grown.
- 5 numbers starting with number 8 means they are genetically modified (GMO)
- 5 numbers starting with 9 means they were organically grown.
THE DIRTY DOZEN
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Kale / Collard Greens
THE CLEAN 15
- Sweet Peas
- Sweet Potatoes
The best part is there is another shopping guide and also an app for your phone so you can always have the information with you when you’re shopping. Download your free EWG Shopping Guide at foodnews.org (you don’t have to sign up there is a small link below the sign up that will take you in). I also recommend printing the pocket guide and possibly installing the phone app.
Canada’s new national organic regulations are phased in over the next couple of years. Following an announcement last December, all products sold as organic will soon have to be registered with a nationally recognized, independent certifier. A national “Canadian Organic” logo will appear on all certified organic products as well as on processed items that contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients. If a product has 70 to 95 percent organic ingredients, the specific percentage must be displayed. Imported products that bear the “Canadian Organic” label must also reveal the country of origin.
Note: Always peel nonorganic fruit and vegetables to reduce pesticide exposure. Although peeling vegetables will not reduce the concentration of absorbed pesticides, it will remove any surface residues that are present. Alternatively, wash produce with a mixture of warm water, salt, and either vinegar or lemon juice. We also have a great Canadian Fruit and Veggie Soak/spray that works great. NatureClean that is available at health food stores and also at Superstore.
Contains information provided by Alive