Pesticides and our health

A recent New York Times article gave us another reason to purchase more organic over conventional foods.  The title, “Pesticide exposure in womb affects I.Q.”, says it all- recent studies funded by the national Institute of Environmental Health Science and the Environmental Protection Agency have shown that pregnant women who had higher exposures to pesticides during pregnancy gave birth to children who had lower I.Q. scores later in life by as many as 7 points. The main pesticide implicated is organophosphate, which is a common insecticide and agricultural pesticide.  This I.Q. drop is similar to that found with lead exposure in the 1980s, which caused great controversy and caused to be removed from many everyday products.  Organophosphate also has been linked to increased risk in Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD).

In this day and age, it can be challenging and expensive to limit our exposure to pesticides.  Organic fruits and vegetables cost more than those grown with pesticides, making a pesticide-free diet out of reach for most Americans. Considering these findings, it is very important to limit pesticide exposure wherever we can.  Luckily, the Environmental Working Group has helped us by creating a shopper’s guide that shows which fruits and vegetables are exposed to the most pesticides (called the “Dirty Dozen”), and which are exposed to the fewest (called the “Clean 15”).

The Dirty Dozen The Clean 15
1. Apples 1. Onions
2. Celery 2. Corn
3. Strawberries 3. Pineapples
4. Peaches 4. Avocado
5. Spinach 5. Asparagus
6. Nectarines (imported) 6. Sweet peas
7. Grapes (imported) 7. Mangos
8. Sweet bell peppers 8. Eggplant
9. Potatoes 9. Cantaloupe (domestic)
10. Blueberries 10. Kiwi
11. Lettuce 11. Cabbage
12. Kale/collard greens 12. Watermelon
13. Sweet potatoes
14. Grapefruit
15. Mushrooms

You can download the shopping guide and have it handy in for trips to the supermarket here http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/

A great way to support your health and the local economy is to buy local and organic produce.  Summer is here and soon the farmers markets will be overflowing with beautiful and healthy fruits and vegetables.  Buying local food means there is less time between when the food is harvested and eaten, making the nutritional content higher.  Less energy is spent shipping the food around the country (or world!), so it’s better for the environment.  Buying local food also supports the local economy, which works for everyone! For more information on how to buy local, organic food in Vermont go to www.nofavt.org.

References:

Pesticide Explosure in Womb Affects I.Q. New York Times. 4/21/2011

http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/05/17/pesticides.adhd/

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