1. It's more nutritious food. It isn’t just a myth. Organic food really is better for you than food which has been produced using organophosphates. Organic food has significantly more vitamin C, iron, magnesium and phosphorus compared with intensively produced food and it also has more antioxidants in it. Antioxidants help stop free radical damage. Free radicals are atoms that devour electrons and thereby damage our cells, DNA and proteins. Free radicals result from normal bodily processes like the immune system’s inflammatory response and the metabolic system but they can also result from pollution, toxins and exposure to alcohol and cigarettes. As antioxidants limit the damage caused by free radicals but they can’t fully protect us from damage and altered cells accumulate, which is what causes the aging process. Having more antioxidants in your diet helps fight free radicals more effectively and could guard against inflammatory diseases and keep you looking younger for longer. This may be why people who consume organic dairy products instead of those produced with pesticides, have a lower incidence of allergic eczema.
2. Organic food contains less pesticide residue which is safer for you and your family. Children are particularly at risk from pesticide exposure because their immune systems, their detoxification systems and their blood/brain barrier are still developing. Not only are they more susceptible than adults, but they accumulate half their exposure to pesticides during the first five years of their life. Exposure begins before birth when the pregnant mother consumes non-organic food or uses household products or lawn care products that contain pesticides. These are not adequately filtered by the placenta (pesticides have been found in cord blood samples) and can cause fetal growth retardation and smaller than average head size. It can also increase the child’s odds of being diagnosed with ADHD. Chronic low dose exposure to pesticides damages the health of children. During the development of children’s organs, there are windows of higher vulnerability when exposure to toxins and chemicals in the environment could do great damage. Currently, one in six American children is now developmentally disabled and one of the reasons may be exposure to pesticides. There has been an eight fold increase in autism in California since 1990, a rise so large that it points to an environmental cause like pesticides and chemicals.
3. Pesticides can cause infertility. When they are tested on mice they can make them sterile. Mice who do manage to get pregnant have a higher rate of miscarriage and birth defects, even when exposed to very low doses. This is mirrored in farming communities where children of parents who farm using pesticides have more birth defects than the general population. Men in rural farming areas who are exposed to more pesticide, have a lower sperm count. The shape of their sperm and its ability to swim was also affected. Environmental Health Perspectives tested the urine of men for 15 farm chemicals and found that those who were exposed to high levels of pesticide were 30 times more likely to have poor sperm quality – a factor that could prevent or significantly delay conception.
4. Pesticides directly target the dopaminergic system of the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is linked to motivation and reward. It is produced in greater amounts in response to pleasurable situations like listening to music, sex or eating chocolate. When we engage in certain activities we enjoy, rush of dopamine gives a sense of well-being. This is why the neurotransmitter is linked to addictions to drugs and cigarettes and if its function becomes disrupted by neurotoxicants like pesticides, plastics and heavy metals, it may trigger compulsive and addictive behaviors. Animals exposed to a herbicide called 2,4-D are more sensitive to amphetamine. It may be that some people exposed to pesticides in their food and environment may be more vulnerable to developing drug addictions. Neurotoxicants can also affect behavior by disrupting our endocrine (hormone) system. Disruption to hormones has been associated with the development of hyperactivity, attention deficits and is known to increase animal drug-induced behaviors, showing a link to neurotoxicant exposure and drug addiction. Avoiding pesticides from birth may be one way in which communities can tackle the on-going drug problems that they face.
5. 'Going organic' reduces your overall body burden of pesticides and may reduce your risk of cancer. Pesticides applied outdoors can drift and end up in our homes in the air we breathe in. In Cape Cod there are more cases of breast, lung, prostate and colorectal cancers reported and when investigators tested samples from some of the homes they found elevated levels of pesticide. Children born to mothers who used pesticides during the time they were pregnant had more than twice the risk of being affected by leukemia or non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The pesticide residues from food that are in children’s bodies can be eliminated just by switching them to an organic diet, a choice that supports healthy function, healthy behaviors, better cognition and a lower risk of a whole host of diseases, which could save you money on your medical bills too, making organic food less of a cost than you imagined.
By guest author: Claire Navarro.