Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Avoiding Pesticides

I love to eat the pestiest foods and so does Henry.  I fear I’ve already done myself irreparable harm, considering I can eat an entire bushel of apples or peaches (the 2 pestiest fruits around) in a day.  I can still feel the canker sores from 3 years ago when I ate an entire bushel of apples on our drive back from Door County -- cheers to our road trip buddies CBG and AG who just moved to NYC.  There is still a chance for my little Henry, though!  Researching pesticides can be a little scary, but now I know that washing with water is not sufficient.  I’m definitely going to be more vigilant about buying organic when feasible.  I’m also going to start using baking soda, the affordable alternative to fruit wash sprays, to wash my fruits and veggies.  I can't wait for our summer CSA (community share agriculture) to begin!

Infants and children may be especially sensitive to health risks posed by pesticides for several reasons:

1.  Their internal organs are still developing and maturing
2.  In relation to their body weight, infants and children eat and drink more than adults, possibly increasing their exposure to pesticides in food and water.
3.  Certain behaviors--such as playing on floors or lawns or putting objects in their mouths--increase a child's exposure to pesticides used in homes and yards.

Pesticides may harm a developing child by blocking the absorption of important food nutrients necessary for normal healthy growth. Another way pesticides may cause harm is if a child's excretory system is not fully developed, the body may not fully remove pesticides. Also, there are "critical periods" in human development when exposure to a toxin can permanently alter the way an individual's biological system operates.
For these reasons, and as specifically required under the Food Quality Protection Act (1996), EPA carefully evaluates children's exposure to pesticide residues in and on foods they most commonly eat, i.e., apples and apple juice, orange juice, potatoes, tomatoes, soybean oil, sugar, eggs, pork, chicken and beef. EPA is also evaluating new and existing pesticides to ensure that they can be used with a reasonable certainty of no harm to adults as well as infants and children. 

What is organic?
"Organically grown" food is food grown and processed using no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Pesticides derived from natural sources (e.g., biological pesticides) may also be used in producing organically grown food. Increasingly, some consumers are purchasing organically grown and processed foods as a way to reduce their exposure to synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Many supermarkets now stock organic products for their consumers. Ask your grocer about organic food and its availability at your store.

Because pesticides have many uses, we may be exposed to them in a variety of ways -- through food, water, and air.  You may reduce the amount of pesticides you consume by:

EPA Best Practices

WASHING:  Wash and scrub all fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water. Running water has an abrasive effect that soaking does not have. This will help remove bacteria and traces of chemicals from the surface of fruits vegetables and dirt from crevices. Not all pesticide residues can be removed by washing.

PEELING and TRIMMING:  Peel fruits and vegetables when possible to reduce dirt, bacteria, and pesticides.  Discard outer leaves of leafy vegetables.  Trim fat from meat and skin from poultry and fish because some pesticides residues collect in fat.
SELECTING A VARIETY OF FOODS:  Eat a variety of foods from a variety of sources. This will give you a better mix of nutrients and reduce your likelihood of exposure to a single pesticide. 

Foods with the highest concentration of pesticides in alphabetical order – add meat, milk and coffee to your organic grocery list

Collard Greens
Imported grapes
Red raspberries
Sweet bell peppers

Least contaminated foods in alphabetical order: 

Sweet corn
Sweet peas
Sweet potato

See the following links for more information

1 comment:

  1. Great tips, especially about the harmful pesticides agrocorps use on their crops. If you're in to growing your own food, I recommend using an organic pesticide like End All Insect Killer. If you garden like me, here's where you can buy it:

    If course, you can always make your own, but it's a hassle.