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Pesticides and Food Additives
Food irradiation: Tinkering with Our Food Supply
The United States Department of Agriculture has expressed their desire to irradiate imported fruits and vegetables. Their reasoning is that foreign insects like fruit flies and mango weevils may have an adverse impact on American agriculture. While this news does not have a direct impact on Canadians there is ample evidence that what gets adopted by the USDA is often soon adopted by Health Canada. In fact, food irradiation has already been approved in Canada on some types of potatoes, onions, spices and medical supplies. Those of us who don't like the idea of having our food nuked feel that there are other, less dangerous methods for controlling unwanted insects such as temperature treatments and better cleanliness standards. For more information about food irradiation, you can visit the Organic Consumers Association website at: http://www.purefood.org/irrad/irradfact.cfm

Irradiation is not allowed to be applied to any foods that are certified organic, so once again, eating organic proves to be the safest way to avoid unwanted contaminants in our food system.
Organic Foods are the Safest Bet in a Toxic World
Recent studies by two groups, the National Research Council in Ottawa and the Environmental Health Sciences Division at Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, suggest a growing link between disease and environmental toxins. Of particular concern are a family of pesticides called organochlorides, which have been shown to disrupt the endocrine system and impair reproductive abilities. These and other toxins have also been conclusively linked to certain diseases such as breast cancer and multiple sclerosis. The research also suggests that women are more at risk than men, because their smaller size can mean a higher dose of chemicals. Organochlorides and other chemical toxins are most prevalent in the fatty tissues and the humans who eat them. This means that the most important products to buy organic are fatty products like butter, peanut butter, high fat dairy products and meats The advice of the researchers is to eat "organic whole grains, beans, fresh vegetables and fruits."
Pesticide Resistant Species Flourish
Insects, weeds, and plant diseases all develop resistance to new pesticides over time. Almost 1000 agricultural pests, 220 weeds and 230 plant diseases are now immune to pesticides. The Worldwatch Institute, an environmental policy organization in Washington, D.C., reports that despite a tremendous increase in the use of pesticides since 1950, the percentage of crops lost to pests has stayed roughly the same. In the United States, where pesticide use has increased 10 times in the last 50 years, the share of crops lost to pests actually increased from 30% to 37%. About 15 years ago, the rice fields in Indonesia were plagued with pesticide-resistant brown plant hoppers. In a wise move, the government eliminated $100 million in annual pesticide subsidies, banned 57 pesticides and started a comprehensive Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. Sine then, pesticide use has decreased by 60% and the rice harvest has increased by 25%.
Subtract the Additives in Your Food
Many chemicals are intentionally added to foods in the form of additives or preservatives. Most people believe that these additives or preservatives are safe or the government wouldn’t allow them. The problem with this belief is that most additives are tested alone ; no one knows what impact they have when combined.. A number of studies have proven that additives affect behavior, particularly in children. For example, the leading British medical journal, The Lancet, reported that artificial colors and preservatives were directly linked to hyperactivity. Further, a 13 member panel of experts assembled by the National Institute of Health in the U.S. recommended the elimination of additives as an initial treatment for hyperactivity. As a final example, Naval Corrections officials in Seattle discovered that simply by removing white bread and refined sugar from the diet of inmates, there was a significant decrease in incidences of violent behaviour. If you suspect that additives are having an impact on your health or your children‘s health, take the time to read food labels and switch to products that have low or no preservatives. It may just make you feel better!
The Dirty Dozen
Below we list the twelve non-organic produce items most heavily contaminated with pesticides, based on US FDA pesticide surveillance data:

Strawberries - these had the highest levels of pesticides that affect the endocrine system.

Bell peppers - about two thirds of the sweet pepper crop in Mexico and the US contained pesticide residues

Spinach - high concentrations of cancer-causing and endocrine disrupting chemicals were found in spinach.

Cherries - US cherries were found to have three times more pesticide residues than cherries imported from outside the US.

Peaches - Over 70% of peach samples contained pesticide contamination.

Cantaloupe - Melons from Mexico exhibited neurotoxic pesticide residues.

Celery - Over 80% of celery samples contained pesticide residues

Apples - apples had a higher range of pesticides residue than any other produce item (over 36 kinds).

Apricots - Two thirds of the samples tested contained pesticide residues.

Green Beans - Almost a third of samples were contaminated with 23 different pesticides.

Grapes - Almost 80% of grapes had contamination, especially those imported from Chili.

Cucumbers - Almost 10% of cucumbers were found to be contaminated with dieldrin, which was banned 20 years ago, but still persists in the soil.

These are the most important produce items to buy organic, especially when feeding kids.

 
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