Have you ever wondered whether it really makes a difference if you eat organic food?
Yes, the arguments sound good and you try and buy as much organically produced foods as you can but sometimes you wonder if it really does make a difference.
For just two weeks, one brave Swedish family agreed to be guinea pigs for a study conducted by the Swedish Environmental Research Institute. As a large family (2 adults and 3 children), they typically ate a conventional diet (more processed foods, farmed conventionally) to save on food costs.
Watch this video to find out what happened to them.
So what is the link between eating non-organically grown foods and pesticides?
Fifty-three years have passed since Rachel Carson's Silent Spring launched the environmental movement and incredibly, the connection between pesticides and conventional farming has grown fuzzy for many folks. On its website, the EPA itself argues that pesticides offer "substantial benefits to society," including "wider selections and lower prices for food and clothing," more sanitary living conditions and jobs. Local, federal and global legislation and labeling laws are in place to contain the risk of negative impact upon humans, animals and the environment; conventionally grown and processed food are supposed to fall well within those "acceptable" pesticide residue levels.
Similar to the US, the Swedish government conducts annual tests to monitor the residual levels or pesticides in or on plant- and animal-based foods. Echoing statements from their American counterparts, the Swedish National Food Agency (SNFA) "believes that occasionally eating food containing a substance in excess of the threshold does not normally pose any health risk." The Swedish Environmental Research Agency was commissioned to test these assertions through the study covered in the YouTube video. Their report, which this article quotes, can be read in full here.
In the SNFA's own findings for 2011- 2012, 86% of fruit samples and 46% of vegetable samples showed evidence of pesticide residue, while 3% of food products (vegetable, fruit, grain and animal) tested in some 3000 spot checks were found to have levels exceeding EU standards. Rates were higher for imported foods ( including food coming from the US, it has to be pointed out).
Another thing to note is that both the checks conducted by the SNFA and the study that is the subject of the video are only testing pesticide exposure through food. They do not measure the levels ingested by farmworkers or food producers or the levels we are exposed to through the air we breathe and other factors.
One of the most compelling results of this study is what one researcher alludes to in the video. Discussions about health risks and ADIs (acceptable daily intake of pesticides and other harmful chemicals) typically are about one particular pesticide or chemical. Risk is assessed for only one substance at a time rather than on the "cocktail effect" of numerous substances in combination with one another.
The urine samples in the study measured the presence of these levels. The findings are especially impactful when we consider the smaller body size of children and the fact that they are still growing. While this is chilling information for consumers of conventional foods, this family's experience shows how easy it can be to take back our health! As shown in the detail below from the test results for the family's youngest member, eating organically for just a short time can create a powerful positive turnaround.
Check out the full study - it's very readable and will give you even more compelling evidence of how organic eating makes sense. To quote the study,
"Eating organic foods reduces the levels of a number of chemicals and substances that we are exposed to through what we eat. This in turn reduces the risk of a long-term impact and combination effects. Choosing organic products also helps to reduce the spread of chemicals in the environment and protects those who work in the cultivation of fruit and vegetables. "
We also know that buying organic and local produce, where possible, creates demand and we vote with our dollars, making an argument for food that is grown sustainably without jeopardizing the health of those who pick and produce it nor the earth that grows it.
Please share this article. Do you think the benefits of eating organic outweigh the costs?