Eat For Change

 

The body requires no medicine if you eat only after

the food you have already eaten is fully digested.

-Holy Kural

 

A significant transformation could occur in the health of the United States from a relatively modest change in its dietary practices. According to an economic model developed at Purdue University designed to predict how U.S. farmers would respond to shifts in eating habits, if Americans simply ate fruits and vegetables at their own USDA-recommended levels, farmers across the country would respond by growing nealy twice as much (88%) of these foods.

Conversely, if meat and dairy consumption fell to levels recommended by the Harvard University School of Public Health, farmers would grow less corn and other grains used as livestock feed and this would build healthier soil, improve air and water quality, and increase access to fresh, affordable, and healthy foods for people of all income levels.

From a health perspective, a shift towards organic foods would have the most profound impact on our children. Research published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that an organic diet significantly lowered concentrations of certain pesticides in two groups of California children.

The study enrolled 40 children, 3-6 years old: 20 from an urban neighborhood in Oakland and 20 from the nearby agricultural Salinas Valley.Researchers swapped out non-organic for organic food in the kids’ diets and measured the concentrations of pesticides in their urine.

In both communities, the amount of pesticides in the children, as measured by breakdown products (metabolites), plummeted after they switched to organic food. Metabolites of two neurotoxic organophosphate pesticides dropped by an average of 40 percent and 49 percent. Levels of the weedkiller 2,4-D, a possible carcinogen, dropped by 25 percent.

The study — which was done by researchers at University of California, Berkeley, University of Maryland and Emory University led by Dr. Asa Bradman — contributes to the mounting evidence that consuming organic foods can reduce the amount of pesticides in our bodies. In addition to reducing the “pesticide burden,” organic crops appear to have higher concentrations of antioxidants and lower levels of cadmium and nitrogen compounds than their non-organic equivalents.

Concerned parents should consult The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce that includes the Dirty Dozen Plus list of non-organic produce with the highest pesticide loads. There is also a Clean Fifteen list of fruits and vegetables that are least likely to have pesticide residues.