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June 18, 2018  |  Login
Why Organic Foods Are Best
By James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D.
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According to the Environmental Protection Agency, "Adverse effects of pesticide exposure range from mild symptoms of dizziness and nausea to serious, long-term neurological, developmental and reproductive disorders. Americans use more than a billion pounds of pesticides each year to combat pests on farm crops, in homes, places of business, schools, parks, hospitals, and other public places. For the first time, the EPA is calling for hundreds of additional studies on pesticides to better understand their effects on children specifically (developmental neurotoxicity, acute and subchronic neurotoxicity). In addition, the EPA has developed new tests and risk assessment methods to target the factors unique to infants and children."


Over 1 billion pounds of pesticides and herbicides are sprayed on U.S. crops each year. Yes, it is realistic to assume that you are ingesting these potential toxins.

The long-term effects of pesticide and herbicide exposure are unclear, but a scary picture is beginning to emerge. Population studies on adults suggest a link with certain types of cancers and neurological diseases. As parents and doctors, we do not want to wait until "absolute" scientific evidence links these chemicals to various diseases. Pesticides that had been considered safe and were used for decades are now being banned. For example, methyl parathion, a type of organophosphate, was recently banned from being sprayed on apples.

Go Organic

Foods are one of the few environmental substances that we can specifically control in regard to our health. It's hard to control the air we breathe outdoors unless we move to a different area. But we can control the safety of our food, to a certain extent, and it starts when we buy organic.

Organic means foods that have not been sprayed with synthetic chemicals and have been grown in safe soil. Look for foods that are labeled "certified organically grown." Organic foods may not be totally pesticide-free, due to cross contamination from other crops and circumstances beyond anyone's control. A 1997 Consumer Reports study of one hundred pounds of organic and nonorganic food (randomly selected from grocery stores around the country) found that 25 percent of the organic samples had traces of pesticides, while 77 percent of the nonorganic food did. Yes, organic foods cost more, but your health is worth it. Be wary of the following fruits and vegetables, as they contain some of the highest amounts of toxic pesticides:

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Winter Squash
  • Green Beans
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes

Baby food is contaminated with pesticides and chemicals as well. Fortunately, well-known baby food brands are now selling organic. The next best thing to buying certified organic food is to buy fruits and vegetables at local farmer markets. Get to know local farmers who do not use pesticides on their crops. You can also purchase poultry and meat products made from chickens, sheep, and cattle that consumed nonpesticide feed and are free of hormones and antibiotics. Organic milk is now available as well.

One study compared the amounts of healthful and toxic minerals in organically and conventionally grown foods. Following are the results, which highly favor organically grown foods.

Healthful Minerals

  • Boron-70% higher in organically grown
  • Calcium-63% higher in organically grown
  • Chromium-78% higher in organically grown
  • Cobalt-same in both groups
  • Copper-48% higher in organically grown
  • Iodine-73% higher in organically grown
  • Iron-59% higher in organically grown
  • Lithium-118% higher in organically grown
  • Magnesium-138% higher in organically grown
  • Molybdenum-68% higher in organically grown
  • Nickel-66% higher in organically grown
  • Phosphorous-91% higher in organically grown
  • Potassium-125% higher in organically grown
  • Rubidium-28% higher in conventionally grown (not a desirable mineral)
  • Selenium-390% higher in organically grown
  • Silicon-86% higher in organically grown
  • Sodium-159% higher in organically grown
  • Strontium-133% higher in organically grown
  • Sulfur-20% higher in organically grown
  • Vanadium-8% higher in organically grown
  • Zinc-60% higher in organically grown

Toxic Minerals

  • Aluminum-40% higher in conventionally grown
  • Cadmium-5% higher in organically grown
  • Lead-29% higher in conventionally grown
  • Mercury-25% higher in conventionally grown

Clean Your Fruits and Vegetables

All foods, whether organic or not, should be washed and cleaned thoroughly to rinse off bacteria, as well as pesticides. The problem with soft foods, such as pears, is that pesticides saturate into the core of the fruit. We recommend washing your fruits and vegetables with dish detergent or special soaps that dissolve pesticides.

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