Over 10,000 years ago our early ancestors figured out that by routinely burying seeds in the ground a sustainable food source can be established and so was born the agricultural revolution.1 Despite the huge advantage of farming our food products, the last half-century has seen the apex of industrial agriculture and the rise of a serious health problem along with it.
In the natural world, a delicate balance ensures that neither weeds or insects grow too prolifically. As agricultural endeavors grew larger they grew less natural products and required synthetic solutions to provide and protect their cash crops. Problems like weeds, insects, weather and low soil nutrients have damaging potential.
Today, the chemicals from the agricultural industry are in the air we breathe, the ground we walk on, and in the food, we eat. The effects are especially insidious and pervasive and call for a new approach to growing our food.
What are Pesticides?
A pesticide is a term used to describe a long list of products, both natural and synthetic, that controls factors that would otherwise damage crops. This includes herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, insecticides, and other chemical agents designed to protect crops. They are also involved in the storage of these products.
These chemicals are also applied to the crops used to feed cattle and livestock being raised for dairy products and meats. In the home, pesticides are used to keep kitchens, lawns, and floor beds free from insects and other unwanted presences. But this heavy application of chemical agents does not go without side effects.
Human Exposure to Pesticides
Pesticides can be introduced to the human body in three different ways. Some pesticides are easily airborne like aerosols and can enter the body through the lungs. Pesticides applied in powder form can also be airborne but more commonly contaminate the ground and can enter the human body through the skin and eyes.
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Toxins in the ground are washed by the rainwater and create a toxic drift which spreads contaminants far and wide. Nearby ecosystems and human habitats can be greatly affected by this phenomena.2
This toxic drift contributes to the most common way toxins enter the body, through the food and water we consume daily. High levels of toxins are present in all types of food treated with pesticides and chemicals. Even the dairy and meat industry carry certain quantities of these toxins.
Certain pesticides that enter the body can’t be properly eliminated by digestive and antitoxin defenses. So, they end up being sequestered in fat cells from where they can cause serious ongoing damage.
Risks of Pesticide Use
Perhaps the worst aspect of pesticide toxins is their cumulative effect. A woman who has consumed contaminates throughout her life has a high chance of passing these chemicals onto her children during pregnancy. Toxins ingested throughout childhood bolster the toxin levels until their effects are manifest in a variety of unpleasant conditions throughout life.3
Other studies have also tracked the consequences of smaller doses of toxic agents over longer periods of time, the health risks include:
- Birth defects
- Memory disorders
- Respiratory problems
- Skin conditions
- Neurological (Parkinson’s disease, etc.)
Reducing the Risk of Pesticide Toxicity
The good news is that there are ways to prevent the threat of poisoning from the food industry. There has been clinical evidence that suggests the toxicities involved in the agricultural industry can be avoided through healthier food choices. Organic food choices offer a healthy alternative and are grown without the use of chemical soil tonics, fertilizers, or synthetic pesticides.
While washing off fruit and veggies is always advisable, this doesn’t work to eliminate toxins within the produce, meat, or dairy. By choosing food grown in an organic environment, toxins ingested through food products can be reduced as much as 90%.5
Even though organic foods can be anywhere from 10% to 40% more expensive than their toxic counterparts, there are some ways to minimize the costs of healthy eating.
Cost Effective Tips for Going Organic
Even though the price is a bit higher due to the increased costs of producing organic products, there are still ways to save money. Consider how the following habits can increase the value of your purchase and contribute to a healthier life.
The first thing to do is change where you do regular shopping. The organic food provided at your supermarket is going to be far more expensive than the produce available at the farmer’s market. This will also give you a better connection with the foods and best options available in your area.
Choose Products by Seasons
Buying organic fruits in season is the best way to beat the high prices. Talk to some of the farmers you meet at the market for tips on big savings. Then, prepare to buy in bulk.
Get into the healthy habit of making sure nothing goes to waste. When you buy seasonally in larger quantities, not all of that food will be eaten before it goes bad. Learn to blanch and freeze veggies and fruits for later months. Canning and freezing are a practical art form and will keep you fed and healthy on a low budget.
Support your foreseeable future with a diet that makes use of the bounty you receive. Over time you will find a specific pattern in the fruits and veggies available at the best prices and your savings margin can be widened.
Grow Your Own
For those who believe a healthy life is the only life, an organic garden completes the magic. This rewarding practice is not only healthy and sustainable but also mentally rewarding and highly relaxing. Furthermore, modern hydroponics allow bountiful produce from very minimal gardening space.
Final Notes of Pesticides
It is easy to become frightened and alarmed at the state of our agricultural industry, but don’t panic. The best thing to do is to slowly identify which foods you eat that are the most likely to contain harsh toxins and slowly begin making healthy adjustments.
Photo credits: Fotokostic/shutterstock.com, PiggingFoto/shutterstock.com AfricaStudio/shutterstock.com, HQuality/shutterstock.com, Fotokostic/shutterstock.com