Aren't there laws to protect our children from foods contaminated with toxic chemicals? Yes, but they aren't enforced. The Delaney Clause, found in Section 409 in the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, states, "No substance found to cause cancer in man or animals may be added to food." Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency still allows many toxic chemicals into our food system. Why? Because they claim that the benefits outweigh the risks.
In 1993, two studies ("Pesticides in the Diet of Infants and Children", by the National Academy of Sciences, and the Environmental Working Group's study, "Pesticides in Children's Foods") gave us evidence that pesticides used in food production are dangerous to human health, most especially children. According to the book, The Safe Shopper's Bible, "both (studies) concluded that infants and children are at high risk for future cancers because of their exposure to carcinogenic pesticides, quite apart from neurotoxic, teratogenic, and other toxic effects."
There are several factors that make children more vulnerable than adults. First of all, the majority of pesticide studies are conducted using adult male bodies. Secondly, the pesticides are tested one at a time. Consider the fact that pesticides rarely occur by themselves, for instance multiple pesticides may be used on a fruit or vegetable. Pound for pound, children eat more fruits and vegetables than adults do. They have less detoxifying enzymes than adults, making it more difficult for them to break down the toxic chemicals in their bodies. They breathe faster and have immature organs. Their playing habits put them into contact with toxic chemicals more frequently (down on the carpet and pesticide laden lawn, or hugging pets doused with anti-flea and tick products, or wearing chemical collars).
At this time in history, following the events of September 11th, 2001, it is imperative that we do everything that we can to keep our children and ourselves healthy. The added anxiety, grief, and stress that we are all experiencing takes it's toll on our bodies. One way that we can counteract those factors is by eating whole (ideally local) certified organic foods.
Here are ten more reasons to choose certified organic foods:
1. Protect Future Generations
Children receive 4 times the exposure of adults for at least 8 widely used cancer-causing pesticides in food. The food choices you make now will impact your child's health in the future.
2. Prevent Soil Erosion
The Soil Conservation Service estimates that more than 3 billion tons of topsoil is eroded from U.S. croplands each year. That means that soil is eroding 7 times faster than it is built up naturally. Soil is the foundation of the food chain in organic farming. In conventional farming, the soil is used more as a medium for holding plants in a vertical position while they are doused with synthetic chemical poisons and fertilizers.
3. Protect Water Quality
Water makes up two thirds of our body mass and covers three fourths of the planet. Despite its importance, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that pesticides (some cancer causing) contaminate ground water in 38 states, polluting the primary source of drinking water for more than half of the country's population.
4. Save Energy
Modern farming uses more petroleum than any other single industry, consuming 12 percent of the country's total energy supply. More energy is now used to produce synthetic fertilizers than to till, cultivate, and harvest, all of the crops in the U.S. Organic farming is still based on labor-intensive practices, such as: weeding by hand, rotating crops, and green cover crops, rather than synthetic chemicals.
5. Keep Chemicals Off Your Plate
Many of the pesticides approved for use by the EPA were registered before extensive research linking these chemicals to cancer and other diseases had been established. Now the EPA considers that 60 percent of all herbicides, 90 percent of all fungicides, and 30 percent of all insecticides are carcinogenic. The bottom line is that pesticides are poisons designed to kill living organisms, including humans.
6. Protect Farm Workers Health
A National Cancer Institute study found that farmers exposed to herbicides had a 6 times greater risk than non-farmers of contracting cancer. In California, reported pesticide poisonings among farm workers have risen an average of 14 percent a year since 1973, and doubled between 1975 and 1985. Pesticides poison an estimated 1 million people annually.
7. Help Small Farmers
Most organic farmers are small in scale and 48 percent gross less than $15,000 per year. Join an organic community supported agriculture (CSA) group, and/or purchase from organic farmers at farmer's markets and farm stands.
8. Support A True Economy
The price of organic food represents the true cost of raising healthy food. Conventionally grown food does not reflect the hidden costs borne by taxpayers, like hazardous waste disposal and cleanups, environmental damage, pesticide regulation, health insurance hikes, etc. In 1988, nearly $14 billion in federal subsidies were given to conventional growers. Why?
9. Promote Biodiversity
Between 1950 and 1970, the practice of planting large plots of land with the same crop, year after year (monocropping), initially tripled farm production. The bad news is that this lack of diversity of plant life has left the soil lacking in natural minerals and nutrients. In an attempt to replace the nutrients and ward off the increasing number of pests, chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticide use has increased. In fact, between 1947 and 1974, crop losses due to insects have doubled.
10. Better Taste and More Nutrition
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen recently reported that organically grown produce has higher levels of nutrients, like vitamins and secondary metabolites (which are thought to lower the risk of cancer) as compared to conventionally grown produce.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Amy Todisco is the owner and President of Green Living Now, LLC. She was the Founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit, the Consumer's Healthy Home Center (CHHC). CHHC was created to hire independent toxicologists to test a variety of household products for their potential inhalation health effects, and recommend the safest choices to consumers. Amy closed down the nonprofit to create the Green Living Now web store as she felt she could positively impact and inspire more people with the store.
Amy is also a professional life coach (Catalyst 4 Change Life Coaching) and is creating a group teleclass on several topics of green living, beginning with organic food on a budget. She's also created three green living ebooks that are going on sale by 8/1.
Contact Amy here: email@example.com