I’ll admit it – when the organic ‘craze’ first went mainstream, I thought, “This is just a big scheme to get us to spend more money at the grocery store!” But the more I researched, the more I realized that organic does make a difference.
When we eat conventional foods, we’re eating pesticides, no matter how well we wash that apple or regardless of whether we peel the orange. In fact, the Pesticide Action Network estimates that the average American is exposed to 10 to 13 different pesticides a day via their food and drink.
And while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that these individual pesticides are safe for consumption, the cumulative and synergistic effects of these chemicals is not studied (a synergistic effect is when the chemical impact of one pesticides amplifies another, becoming more toxic when combined). Plus, many of the pesticides that are legal in the United States are banned for use in Europe!
Choosing organic is healthier for our bodies because certified organic food isn’t treated with pesticides. And, of course, organic is better for the environment, too, as pesticides and other chemicals impact the soil, air, and water.
I slowly switched my diet to about 75% organic foods (more on how I did it without breaking the bank in follow-up posts), most especially organic produce. Now that I’m pregnant, the organic issue seems even more pressing. And I know when the baby arrives, I’ll strive to eat mostly organic as long as the baby is breastfeeding, and I’ll always try to feed the baby organic foods.
Switching to organic foods makes a big – and immediate – difference. A 2006 study of elementary school children revealed that switching to an organic diet reduced the amount of organophosphorus pesticides present in the children’s urine. Instead of eating conventional fruit and vegetables, juices, and wheat- and corn-based items such as pasta and cereal, the children were fed similar organic options. Levels of organophosphorus pesticides in the children’s urine – yes, pesticides can be detected in pee! – dropped immediately. After two weeks on the new organic diet, the pesticides tapered off to a ‘non-detect’ level after two weeks, proving that an organic diet provides immediate and dramatic protection against pesticide exposure in food.