Are you concerned about what you and your family eat? In this synthetic chemical age itís wise to be informed about what may be in the food that we eat. Even if your pantry and refrigerator are loaded with fresh, certified organic whole foods, there is more that you need to know about your food, how itís prepared, and what toxic chemicals might be lurking in your kitchen. Join Amy Todisco as she takes you through a brief tour of a typical American kitchen and offers tips on how to make yours a healthier haven. If you want more information, feel free to email Amy at: firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions.
Arenít there laws to protect our children from foods contaminated withtoxic chemicals? Yes, but they arenít enforced. The Delaney Clause,found in Section 409 of the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, states,"No substance found to cause cancer in man or animals may be added tofood." Unfortunately the Environmental Protection Agency still allowsmany toxic chemicals into our food system. Why? Because they claimthat the benefits outweigh the risks.
In 1993, two studies ("Pesticides in the Diet of Infants and Children", bythe National Academy of Sciences, and the Environmental Working Groupsístudy, "Pesticides in Childrenís Foods") gave us evidence that pesticidesused in food production are dangerous to human health, most especiallyfor children. According to book, The Safe Shopperís Bible, ďboth(studies) concluded that infants and children are at high risk forfuture cancers because of their exposure to carcinogenic pesticides,quite apart from neurotoxic, teratogenic, and other toxic effects.Ē
There are several factors that make children more vulnerable thanadults. First of all, the majority of pesticide studies are conductedusing adult male bodies. Secondly, the pesticides are tested one at atime. Consider the fact that pesticides rarely occur by themselves andthat multiple pesticides may be used on a fruit or vegetable. Pound forpound, children eat more fruits and vegetables than adults do. Theyhave less detoxifying enzymes than adults, making it more difficult forthem to break down the toxic chemicals that enter their bodies. Theybreathe faster and have immature organs. Their playing habits put theminto contact with toxic chemicals more frequently (down on the carpetand the lawn, or hugging pets doused with flea and tick sprays orwearing chemical collars).
At this time in history, following the events of September 11th, 2001,it is imperative that we do everything that we can to keep our childrenand ourselves healthy. The added anxiety, grief, and stress we are allexperiencing takes itís toll on our bodies and one way that we cancounter those factors is by eating whole (ideally local) certifiedorganic foods.
Here are ten more reasons to choose certified organic foods:
1. Protect Future Generations
Children receive 4 times the exposure of adults for at least 8 widelyused cancer-causing pesticides in food. The food choices you make nowwill impact your childís health in the future.
2. Protect Soil Erosion
The Soil Conservation Service estimates that more than 3 billion tons oftopsoil is eroded from U.S. croplands each year. That means that soilis eroding 7 times faster than it is built up naturally. Soil is thefoundation of the food chain in organic farming. In conventionalfarming, the soil is used more as a medium for holding plants in avertical position while they are doused with synthetic chemical poisonsand fertilizers.
3. Protect Water Quality
Water makes up two thirds of our body mass and covers three fourths ofthe planet. Despite its importance, the Environmental Protection Agencyestimates that pesticides (some cancer causing) contaminate ground waterin 38 states, polluting the primary source of drinking water for morethan half the countryís population.
4. Save Energy
Modern farming uses more petroleum than any other single industry,consuming 12 percent of the countryís total energy supply. More energyis now used to produce synthetic fertilizers than to till, cultivate,and harvest, all of the crops in the U.S. Organic farming is stillbased on labor-intensive practices, such as: weeding by hand, rotatingcrops, and green cover crops, rather than synthetic chemicals.
5. Keep Chemicals Off Your Plate
Many of the pesticides approved for use by the EPA were registeredbefore extensive research linking these chemicals to cancer and otherdiseases had been established. Now the EPA considers that 60 percent ofall herbicides, 90 percent of all fungicides, and 30 percent of allinsecticides are carcinogenic. The bottom line is that pesticides arepoisons designed to kill living organisms, including humans.
6. Protect Farm Workers Health
A National Cancer Institute study found that farmers exposed toherbicides had a 6 times greater risk than non-farmers of contractingcancer. In California, reported pesticide poisonings among farm workershave risen an average of 14 percent a year since 1973, and doubledbetween 1975 and 1985. Pesticides poison an estimated 1 million peopleannually.
7. Help Small Farmers
Most organic farmers are small scale and 48 percent gross less than$15,000 per year. Join an organic community supported agriculture (CSA)group and/or purchase from organic farmers at farmerís markets and farmstands.
8. Support A True Economy
The price of organic food represents the true cost of raising healthyfood. Conventionally grown food does not reflect the hidden costs borneby taxpayers, like hazardous waste disposal and cleanups, environmentaldamage, pesticide regulation, health insurance hikes, etc. In 1988,nearly $14 billion in federal subsidies were given to conventionalgrowers. Why?
9. Promote Biodiversity
Between 1950 and 1970, the practice of planting large plots of land withthe same crop, year after year (monocropping), initially tripled farmproduction. The bad news is that this lack of diversity of plant lifehas left the soil lacking in natural minerals and nutrients. In anattempt to replace the nutrients and ward off the increasing number ofpests, chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticide use has increased. Infact, between 1947 and 1974, crop losses due to insects have doubled.
10. Better Taste and More Nutrition
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen recently reported thatorganically grown produce has higher levels of nutrients, like vitaminsand secondary metabolites (which are thought to lower the risk ofcancer) as compared to conventionally grown produce.
READ PAST "ASK AMY" COLUMNS:
Amy Todisco is the president and owner of Green Living Now, LLC. In addition to serving as an "Environmental Expert" on the EcoMall website ("Ask Amy"), she's also featured on former National Public Radio host, Laurie Howell's, The Green Scene Internet radio program. She's created community educational events, founded and co founded several nonprofits; served as Executive Director for two nonprofits; provided presentations on household toxics; consulted with private and public schools; churches, community groups, local boards of health, and the MA State Department of Public Health; written on the topic of household toxics for newspapers, newsletters and websites; and been interviewed on radio and cable TV.
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