Would you knowingly expose your children to a nerve agent proven to lower IQ? If your answer is anything like, “No way!”, organic food is important to you.
I used to think if there was any real danger from all those unpronounceable ingredients, the government would put a stop to it. Companies making people sick would get sued out of existence. My doctor would warn me and the media would be all over it. Besides, the internet is filled with articles that insist organic is a scam.
Then I started to look at who was funding the politicians, doctors, studies and articles. I explored the professional history of those leading government agencies and found them often furnished by corporations. I Googled names of authors saying organic is a hoax, and the search results invariably led to pharmaceutical and chemical industry ties. So I dug into research coming out of other countries and from independent labs. And that’s when I learned the story I had adopted for most of my life was constructed on false premises and social hypnosis.
My previous thinking was an old app that needed an update. Here’s why I buy organic and why you might want to also.
How the social hypnosis unfolded
Prior to the last few decades, you could eat about anything from a farm or grocery store and it would produce health. Vegetables were harvested in season and needed to be eaten fairly soon or preserved through ancient methods, like fermentation. Animals roamed in pastures, eating forage and fortifying the soil. Either that, or they were hunted. Growing food on your own land was normal. Taking pills every day was not.
This model favored our biology incredibly well for thousands of years. But then, in the last handful of decades, we changed it radically.
In the name of increasing yield to feed a population explosion, plants were subjected to x-ray and gamma radiation, or to DNA from animals. Then we added powerful synthetic antibiotics that kill pests, but also kill beneficial soil bacteria and bind to minerals. The more familiar description of this science is genetic engineering (GE). We started using over 10,000 unregulated chemical additives and plastic-lined cans. People loved the convenience as shelf life became nearly indefinite.
Animals were consolidated into a few enormous factory farms known as Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). Grazing on grass gave way to standing in waste as herds were crammed together, nearly unable to move. Livestock didn’t live very long in such unsanitary conditions, so massive quantities of antibiotics were added to food and given via injections. Simultaneously, animals could be pumped full of growth hormones. Their weight would sometimes balloon so quickly that they’d have trouble standing. It was a double win for the factory, though. Fatter animals fetch a higher price and rapid weight gain radically reduced time to market.
CAFO meat became identifiable by friendly sounding terms like “Grain fed” or “USDA Prime“.
Meanwhile, we began to document skyrocketing rates of obesity and disease. Most people never asked if humans could tolerate all those chemicals.
Medical specialists began to treat parts of the body in isolation, rather than as a system. Patent laws, not science, effectively eliminated a doctor’s ability to prescribe any treatment other than the pharmaceutical drugs that paid for our evening news.
Political leaders, beholden to industry lobbies, shaped FDA and EPA regulations. Biochemical companies furnished leaders to oversee government offices and write policy that eliminated most safety testing requirements. (See detailed documentation in this post and also in this one.) The government funneled tax dollars to subsidize GE corn and soy crops, so their true cost became invisible to the public. Food prices were low in the grocery store, but much higher when energy, environmental, taxes and medical costs were factored in.
Smitten by convenience and intimidated by morass, we surrendered personal responsibility for food and health to industries that repeatedly failed to deliver health. Are farmers, scientists, doctors, officials, reporters, restaurants and chemical companies colluding to the detriment of mankind? A few might be, but for the most part, I think innumerable micro-decisions have created a historical record that is allowing more of us to see how the dots connect.
Today, if you walk into the average grocery store, and remove all the items containing chemicals, there wouldn’t be much left. As Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D. puts it, “What we have today looks like food, but it contains less nutrients and comes with a payload of gene, endocrine and nervous system disruptors.”
Millions of people have now tested the theory and found, like I have, that if you stop eating all the additions to food that your body doesn’t recognize, you get thin, your diseases go away and you get your brain back.
Organic is not a scam. It’s one of the few ways we have to ensure we’re not consuming a frankenfood/chemical combo.Could your beliefs about organic foods and products be based on social hypnosis? Click To Tweet
If you’re thinking, “Great story, Jeff. But what’s your evidence?” Let’s start with government.
EPA makes the safety rules – years behind other nations
There’s how I used to imagine it to work… and then there’s how it actually works. Here’s how it actually works.
The key influences on food and chemical safety in the US are:
- World Trade Organization (WTO) – Sets international standards and gives input to countries
- Environment Protection Agency (EPA) – Evaluates and sets safety standards for the US
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – Enforces standards from EPA, WTO and trade agreements like NAFTA
- US Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Measures and reports
An FDA report summarized where EPA authority comes from. “EPA regulates pesticide use under two Federal statutes: the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) of 1947, which regulates pesticide registrations in the United States, and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) of 1938, under which EPA establishes tolerances for pesticide residues in food. The Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) of 1996 amended these two pesticide laws to mandate a single, health-based standard for all pesticides in all foods.”
EPA is required to periodically re-evaluate to ensure that their safety info remains up to date. They do, but other countries seem to do it faster. For example, paraquat is an herbicide linked to Parkinson’s disease (2007, 2009, 2011). The EU voted to ban paraquat in 2007. China banned paraquat it in 2012, but it’s still being used in the US.
The EPA decides a US citizens maximum tolerance for chemicals based on either no data at all, or 90-day, industry-funded toxicity studies of isolated chemicals. Only independent researchers, mostly from other nations, are testing chemical combinations and/or allowing the toxicity studies to run longer than 90 days.The EPA is years behind Europe, China and many other nations in banning harmful chemicals. Click To Tweet
What makes up your toxic burden?
We are exposed to doses of chemicals in everything from personal care products and cleaning supplies to fresh produce. Functional medicine doctors typically refer to this chemical accumulation as a person’s “toxic burden”.
I grew up in the Finger Lakes region of New York where it snowed heavily in the winter. There were lots of snow plows, but sometimes it snowed so hard that the plows couldn’t keep up. Relentless accumulation overwhelmed efforts to keep the roads clear. It’s like that with chemical exposures.
The human body has a number of ways to neutralize and remove toxic substances, but those processes can be overwhelmed by excessive exposure. According to a recent UCLA study, “This may lead to an increase in the time it takes for the body to eliminate other compounds. The result is likely to be that toxic compounds have a longer opportunity to damage cells.”
Want to detox? One of the first strategies of an effective healer is to remove whatever is causing the problem. Switching to an organic diet will quickly and measurably reduce your toxic burden. A 2005 study concluded, “We found that the median urinary concentrations of the specific metabolites for malathion and chlorpyrifos decreased to the nondetect levels immediately after the introduction of organic diets and remained nondetectable until the conventional diets were reintroduced.”Chemical exposures add up and overwhelm your natural ability to detox. Click To Tweet
Synthetic pesticides reduce IQ and cause cancer
Synthetic pesticides are chemicals used to get rid of pests. They were first developed as nerve-gas agents during World War II. In the list below, take note of how many studies observed damage to the central nervous system.
These are some of the consequences of pesticide exposure
- Shorter duration of pregnancy. (Go to publication, Over 100 Related Studies)
- Lower IQ and poorer cognitive functioning in children. (Go to publication)
- Increased risk of attention problems in children. (Go to publication)
- Can be stored in fat cells for prolonged periods. (Go to publication)
- According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “confusion, anxiety, loss of memory, loss of appetite, disorientation, depression, and personality changes.”
- Poorer mental development in children at age 2. (Go to publication)
- Altered thyroid hormone levels in mothers. (Go to publication)
- Neonatal thyroid hormone levels. (Go to publication)
- Muscle tremors and twitches, respiratory problems, and seizures. (Go to publication)
- Convulsions, dizziness, labored breathing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, unconsciousness, muscle cramps, and excessive salivation. (Go to publication)
- Cancer (1, 2).
- Involuntary twitching, loss of sensation, vomiting, stomach pains, diarrhea, weakness, fatigue, dermatitis, and aching muscles. Phenoxy-treated lawns and gardens appeared to dramatically increase the risk of bladder cancer in Scottish Terriers. (Go to publication)
- Muscle tremors, hyperexcitability, depression, ataxia, vomiting, seizures, anorexia, and death. Exposure to Resmethrin caused increased thyroid and liver weight in adult dogs, and exposure to these chemicals is linked to harm in neurological development. (Go to publication)
- Allergies, asthma, food allergies, infections, inflammatory responses, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, MS and cancer. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
- Additive or synergistic effects of multiple pesticides: Pesticide A may attack and damage DNA while pesticide B disables DNA repair and pesticide C disables an enzyme and alters gene expression. The result may be a greater likelihood of unrepaired mutations and/or uncontrolled cell growth. Note that toxicology studies only look at one chemical at at time, not how they work synergistically. (Go to publication)
According to the Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database, pesticides in food have been linked to the following diseases:
- Birth and Fetal Defects
- Brain Cancer
- Breast Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
- Soft Tissue Sarcoma
- Developmental and Learning Disorders
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Reproductive Health Effects
Common sources of pesticide exposure:
- Diet – The highest concentration in your diet comes from non-pastured meats, because chemical toxins get stored in fat (animals and/or yours). Meat is the most effective place to begin reducing your pesticide exposure. One reason the Wellness Repair Plan advises eliminating sugar during the first month is to free up the liver to deal with chemical toxins being released from fat cells.
- Your lawn service – Children and pets can be at even greater risk from pesticides applied to your lawn.
- Spray-drift or groundwater contamination from fields where pesticides are used
Synthetic herbicides correlate to cancer, dementia and autism
Synthetic herbicides are chemicals used to kill unwanted vegetation. The most famous are those containing glyphosate, a broad spectrum herbicide first brought to market by Monsanto in 1974. You know it as Roundup and it’s sprayed on over 90% of the crops in the US.
What happens when you eat or absorb synthetic herbicides like glyphosate?
- Liver and kidney toxicity, according to Monsanto’s own 90-day toxicity study (view results)
- The CRIIGEN study re-ran Monsanto’s study, but let it go for 2 years. After 4-7 months, 50-80% of the female rats developed giant tumors (see image below) Rats exposed to glyphosate died 2-3 times more than the control rats.
- Crop failure and livestock infertility that can “jeopardize our very existence”, according to Dr. Don Huber, Ph.D. who sounded the alarm inside the USDA per a requirement of Homeland Security Presidential Directive Number 9. GMO corn and soy crops had begun mysteriously failing to disease. At the same time, farmers were noticing spontaneous abortion rates as high as 45% in all livestock. That was on top of a 20% overall reduction in fertility. Farmers found the abortions and infertility would go away completely, as soon as they ceased giving glyphosate exposed feed to their animals… but the soil wasn’t bouncing back. Read the whole story here.
- Per the CRIIGEN study, “all treated groups died 2–3 times more than controls, and more rapidly.” Treated means exposure to glyphosate and/or GMOs.
- Dementia (deaths) – 99% correlation between glyphosate usage and published data from the CDC. This observation was documented by MIT scientist, Nancy Swanson.
- Autism – 98.8% correlation to glyphosate usage
- Thyroid Cancer – 98.7% correlation to glyphosate usage
- Obesity – 96.9% correlation to glyphosate usage
- Diabetes – 96% correlation to glyphosate usage
- Liver Cancer – 95.7% correlation to glyphosate usage
- Alzheimer’s (deaths) – 92.7% correlation to glyphosate usage
- Parkinson’s (deaths) – 89.5% correlation to glyphosate usage
Here’s one of the charts produced by MIT scientist, Nancy Swanson.
The next image was captured by the researchers who conducted the CRIIGEN study. They exposed rats to levels of glyphosate in comparable ratios to those declared safe for humans by the EPA and FDA.
Both pesticides and herbicides soak into every cell of the plant. It’s one of the requirements for them to be effective, according to the Penn State instruction on weed control. Forget the idea that washing your produce will help much. That’s a myth.
For a list of the produce with the highest levels of pesticides, see my Pesticides in Produce list. I update the list annually, based on third party lab testing conducted by the Environmental Working Group and also Consumer Reports.Glyphosate usage correlates over 98% to rates of cancer, dementia and autism. Click To Tweet
Growth hormones increase risk for breast cancer
Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) or recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), is genetically engineered (GE) artificial hormone injected into dairy cows to make them produce more milk. Monsanto Corporation’s version is called “Posilac”.
The primary problem for humans is an increase in the risk of cancer, especially breast cancer. (see Dr. Mercola’s report on rGBH)
There are also problems for cows, that translate to humans consuming more antibiotics.
- 80% higher rates of mastitis in cows that are injected. (study) The high rates of mastitis requires an increase in antibiotics.
- 40% increase in infertility (study)
- 55% increased risk for lameness (study)
- Shortened lifespan (study)
- Hoof disorders (study)
- Visibly abnormal milk (study)
According to the FDA website, GE growth hormone was approved on November 5th, 1993. That would have been during the time that Michael Taylor was setting policy at the helm of the FDA. Prior to establishing GE policy for the FDA, Mr. Taylor was a partner at King & Spalding, Monsanto’s external legal counsel on regulatory matters. During his time at the FDA, references to the potential harmful effects of GE products were systematically removed from drafts of the final policy statement. After his time at the FDA, Mr. Taylor went over to the USDA as Administrator of the Food Safety & Inspection Service. After that, he became Vice-President for Public Policy at Monsanto. In 2009, the Obama administration appointed Michael Taylor to a newly created position at the FDA. He became the the Deputy Commissioner of Foods. As of this writing, he oversees all food safety policy for the federal government.
Monsanto has gone to great lengths to bury negative press about the risks of GE growth hormones. Fox News journalists Jane Akre and Steve Wilson were fired after uncovering evidence of harm and then refusing to change their story. Monsanto threatened Fox with legal action, and then Rupert Murdoch allegedly pulled the plug on the story. Here are the reporters explaining how it went down.
FOX NEWS KILLS STORY – FIRES Reporters.Growth hormones injected into dairy cows increase the risk of breast cancer in humans. Click To Tweet
Antibiotics are concentrated most in animal fat
In the US, conventionally raised livestock are generally raised on factory farms known as CAFOs – Confined Animal Feeding Operations. While food labels display images of cows in a serene meadow, the reality of a CAFO is that thousands of animals are densely packed, barely able to move and standing in their own waste. As you might guess, disease spreads rampantly among the animals. To counteract disease, antibiotics are administered via the animal feed as well as injections.
Like growth hormones, antibiotics administered to animals accumulate in the animals fat and get passed on to humans.
Dr. Amy Myers specializes in reversing autoimmune diseases. She warns, “The frequent use of antibiotics in livestock helps breed antibiotic-resistant “supergerms” that our immune systems have a very difficult time fighting. These super bugs can be particularly dangerous in those who are immunosuppressed, as many people taking medications for autoimmune disease are.”
Dr. Joseph Mercola has done extensive investigation into farming practices. He says, “Livestock raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are routinely fed GE feed—typically GE corn and soy—which destroys the animal’s gut bacteria and promotes disease.”
Antibiotics directly from animal fat is only one path into the human digestive system. Dr. Mercola again: “And, feces from animals raised in CAFOs are used as fertilizer on crop fields, which scientists now admit is yet another way antibiotic-resistant disease appears to be promulgated!”
There’s an illusion that CAFOs are worth it because they keep prices low. They actually cost you more, but the true costs are hidden in environmental damage and massive government subsidies that we pay for in taxes. This 94 page report from 2008 details over $36 billion in hidden taxpayer costs caused by CAFOs.
Note that herbicides like glyphosate are also powerful antibiotics.Antibiotics added to non-organic food harm beneficial gut bacteria, which leads to disease. Click To Tweet
GMOs increase instances of tumors as much as 80%
Dr. Amy Myers gives a great overview of GMOs. “GMOs are plants and animals that have been created by combining DNA of different species in a way that could not occur in nature or by traditional cross-breeding.”
What do GMOs do in humans? One of the most significant studies found long-term exposure to GMOs dramatically increased instances of tumors. (See the rat pictures above.) The two-year study conclusion stated: “all treated groups died 2–3 times more than controls, and more rapidly.” The word “treated” indicates the rats were fed GMO corn – or – corn & glyphosate. 4-7 months into the study, treated rats developed large tumors. 50-80% of treated female rats had developed tumors by the 24th month. There were up to 3 tumors per animal.
Numerous countries have total or partial GMO bans, including most of the European Union and Russia.
A 2012 study found GMO Bt-toxin, designed to destroy the gut lining of insects, pokes holes in human cells as well. This damages the intestinal lining and causes leaky gut, the precursor to most diseases. According to Dr. Myers, “The higher potency Bt-toxin in GMO corn can’t be washed off–it’s part of the genetic makeup of the genetically engineered crop.”
The top GMO foods:
- Corn (including high fructose corn syrup, corn oil, corn syrup)
- Sugar Beets (most sugar is made from GMO sugar beets)
- Canola (canola oil – actual name is “rape seed oil”. For real.)
- Cotton (including cottonseed oil)
- Zucchini and yellow squash
According to the Environmental Working Group, over 90% of conventionally raised livestock are fed a combination of GMO soy any corn.
I have written extensively about GMOs here.Exposure to GMOs produced large tumors in 50-80% of female rats after only 4-7 months. Click To Tweet
Chemical additives are not safety tested by anyone
One of the startling revelations from my research on the safety of personal care products is that chemical additives are largely not evaluated or regulated by the FDA.
I found a 2013 study that should be on every newscast. Researchers developed a searchable list of chemical additives allowed in human food by the FDA. The database was cross-referenced to supporting toxicology studies. Here’s what they found.
“In practice, almost 80% of chemical additives directly—intentionally—added to food lack the relevant information needed to estimate the amount that consumers can safely eat in FDA’s own database and 93% lack reproductive or developmental toxicity data, although FDA requires feeding toxicology data for these chemicals.
Of the totality of FDA-regulated additives, both directly and indirectly allowed in food, almost two-thirds don’t have publicly available feeding data.
In the absence of toxicology data on the majority of chemicals added to food, the scientific basis for determinations of safety to humans may be questioned.”
Also keep in mind that a by-the-book toxicity study lasts only 90 days. The CRIIGEN study rats didn’t develop tumors until 4-7 months, when running the same same toxicity study that was previously run for only 90 days.
There are over 10,000 chemical additives, so it isn’t practical to keep track of which ones to avoid. Many are linked to weight gain, brain fog, tumors, thyroid disease, allergies, chest pain, heart disease, nausea, cravings, weakened bones, stroke and ADHD. Products with the USDA organic seal are not permitted to contain chemical additives.93% of chemical food additives in the FDA database lack required toxicology data. Click To Tweet
Ionizing radiation (food irradiation) is associated with tumors
According to the FDA website, there are three sources of radiation approved for use on foods:
- Gamma rays are emitted from radioactive forms of the element cobalt (Cobalt 60) or of the element cesium (Cesium 137). Gamma radiation is used routinely to sterilize medical, dental, and household products and is also used for the radiation treatment of cancer.
- X-rays are produced by reflecting a high-energy stream of electrons off a target substance (usually one of the heavy metals) into food. X-rays are also widely used in medicine and industry to produce images of internal structures.
- Electron beam (or e-beam) is similar to X-rays and is a stream of high-energy electrons propelled from an electron accelerator into food.
Irradiation technology dates back to the turn of the century and has been approved in the US for over 50 years. The FDA maintains it makes food safer. Consumers and most other countries aren’t convinced. Food irradiation is not permitted in 136 countries (2/3 of the world). Of the 60 countries that permit food irradiation, regulations vary greatly. According to Wikipedia, “In Austria, Germany, and many other countries of the European Union only dried herbs, spices, and seasonings can be processed with irradiation and only at a specific dose, while in Brazil all foods are allowed at any dose.”
The FDA and USDA have approved irradiation of the following foods in the US:
- Packaged refrigerated or frozen red meat
- Packaged poultry
- Fresh fruits, vegetables and grains
- Herbs, spices and vegetable seasonings
- Dry or dehydrated enzyme preparations
- White potato
- Wheat and wheat flour
- Loose or bagged fresh iceberg lettuce and spinach
While true that food irradiation changes the nutrient value of food (as does cooking), the primary concern is creation of free radicals, which can be carcinogenic. According to the Organic Consumers Association, “The free radicals kill some bacteria, but they also bounce around in the food, damage vitamins and enzymes, and combine with existing chemicals (like pesticides) in the food to form new chemicals, called unique radiolytic products (URPs). Some of these URPs are known toxins (benzene, formaldehyde, lipid peroxides) and some are unique to irradiated foods. Scientists have not studied the long-term effect of these new chemicals in our diet. Therefore, we cannot assume they are safe.”
More from the Organic Consumers Association on ionizing radiation:
- The longest human feeding study was 15 weeks. No one knows the long-term effects of a life-long diet that includes foods which will be frequently irradiated, such as meat, chicken, vegetables, fruits, salads, sprouts and juices.
- There are no studies on the effects of feeding babies or children diets containing irradiated foods, except a very small and controversial study from India that showed health effects.
- Studies on animals fed irradiated foods have shown increased tumors, reproductive failures and kidney damage. Some possible causes are: irradiation-induced vitamin deficiencies, the inactivity of enzymes in the food, DNA damage, and toxic radiolytic products in the food.
- The FDA based its approval of irradiation for poultry on only 5 of 441 animal-feeding studies. Marcia van Gemert, Ph.D., the toxicologist who chaired the FDA committee that approved irradiation, later said, “These studies reviewed in the 1982 literature from the FDA were not adequate by 1982 standards, and are even less accurate by 1993 standards to evaluate the safety of any product, especially a food product such as irradiated food.” The 5 studies are not a good basis for approval of irradiation for humans, because they showed health effects on the animals or were conducted using irradiation at lower energies than those the FDA eventually approved.
- The FDA based its approval of irradiation for fruits and vegetables on a theoretical calculation of the amount of URPs in the diet from one 7.5 oz. serving/day of irradiated food. Considering the different kinds of foods approved for irradiation, this quantity is too small and the calculation is irrelevant.
- Even with current labeling requirements, people cannot avoid eating irradiated food. That means there is no control group, and epidemiologists will never be able to determine if irradiated food has any health effects.
Food with the USDA Organic seal is not irradiated.Animals fed irradiated foods had increased tumors, reproductive failures and kidney damage. Click To Tweet
Fertilizers from sewage sludge contain dense chemical soup
Often referred to with the very friendly sounding term ‘biosolids’, this means using human waste as fertilizer.
The Organic Consumers Association sums up the problem concisely:
“Sewage sludge contains everything the sewage treatment plant was able to remove from the sewage – plus every new chemical and pathogen formed in the mad synergy of this chemical soup, including virulent, antibiotic-resistant bacteria created through horizontal gene transfer. Scientific evidence has confirmed that municipal sewage sludge contains hundreds of dangerous pathogens, toxic heavy metals, flame-retardants, endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, pharmaceutical drugs and other hazardous chemicals coming from residential drains, storm water runoff, hospitals, and industrial plants.
Sewage sludge is a form of hazardous waste and needs to be contained and isolated, not spread on our gardens and farmland!”
Sounds like bad stuff. But wait, there’s more. According to Independent Science News, “US EPA’s 503 sludge rule (1993) allows treated sewage sludges, aka biosolids, to be land-applied to farms, forests, parks, school playgrounds, home gardens and other private and public lands. According to a recent EPA survey, biosolids contain a wide range of mutagenic and neurotoxic chemicals, which are present at a million-fold higher concentrations (ppm versus ppt) compared with their levels in polluted air and water.”
The quote above is from a whistleblower story showing how the EPA faked the science of sewage sludge safety. The story contains court testimony gems like EPA chemist, Alan Rubin, giving the official position on how sewage sludge renders pollutants non-bioavailable. Rubin’s exact words were, “It’s magic.” During testimony, the EPA was not able to produce any studies documenting the safety of sewage sludge.
The USDA Organic seal means no biosolids (human waste) was used in the growing process.Sewage sludge contains hundreds of dangerous pathogens in high concentrations. Click To Tweet
Heavy metals lead to cancer, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease and hormone imbalances
Heavy metals, like mercury and cadmium, accumulate in your tissue over time.
According to the EPA, “Bioaccumulation refers to the build-up or steadily increasing concentration of a chemical in organs or tissues in the body. Mercury from dental amalgam and other sources (e.g., fish) is bioaccumulative. Studies of healthy subjects … have shown that mercury from exposure to mercury vapor bioaccumulates in certain tissues of the body including kidneys and brain.”
Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac is a globally recognized leader in functional and integrative medicine. He points out, “Cadmium (Cd) is a highly toxic metal that accumulates in the human body. It is classified as a category I carcinogen—which means it contributes to cancer development—and has been linked to an increased risk of everything from Alzheimer’s disease, to thyroid problems, to cardiovascular disease, to hormone imbalance.”
A study by the British Journal of Nutrition found that cadmium levels were 48% lower in organic food. (The same study found pesticide levels 400% lower in organic food.)
Unfortunately, simply going organic isn’t the whole solution when trying to reduce exposure to heavy metals. Proximity to pollution is an important factor as well. This is verified by the Consumer Wellness Center, an independent forensic food lab that tests for heavy metals in conventional and organic food.
According to lab owner and investigative reporter, Mike Adams, “…consider the fact that rice grown in China is often heavily contaminated with lead, cadmium and mercury while rice grown in the USA is incredibly clean, with virtually zero levels of those same heavy metals. If heavy metals were “naturally occurring” in all rice, then levels would be the same no matter where rice is grown. But they aren’t. This proves that much of the rice being grown in China is grown in areas which are heavily contaminated by industrial pollution containing heavy metals.”
Tea is especially susceptible to heavy metal absorption from pollution. Consumer Lab reports, “Lead is known to be taken up into tea leaves from the environment and can occur in high amounts in tea plants grown near industrial areas and active roadways, such as in certain areas of China. Although the liquid portions of the brewed teas did not contain measurable amounts of lead (i.e., no more than 1.25 mcg per serving), when including the brewed leaves in the analysis, 2 to 5 mcg of lead was detected per serving in four different products, including an “organic” green tea. Interestingly, measurable lead was not found in decaffeinated green teas or in a Japanese green tea. Most of the teas reviewed likely originated in China.”
Regions with the highest measured pollution, according to the World Health Organization Urban Ambient Air Pollution Database:
- United Arab Emirates – Riyadh had the highest pollution measured by the WHO.
- India – Delhi had the most pollution in India.
- Eastern Mediterranean – Cairo, Egypt had the most pollution in this region.
- Western Pacific – Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, had the most pollution.
Organic food may be lower in heavy metals, but the country or origin seems to matter more.
The process to detox from heavy metals is called chelation. Dr. Andy Cutler, PhD is a chelation expert and explained how chelation works on the Weston A Price Foundation’s Wise Traditions podcast.Heavy metals exposure can lead to cancer, Alzheimer's and hormone imbalances. Click To Tweet
Look for the USDA ORGANIC logo
Some labels will display the word “Organic” or say “Made with organic…” But if you don’t see the USDA ORGANIC seal, it probably means the product contains some non-organic ingredients. Most label claims are not audited or certified by a third party, but the USDA ORGANIC seal has legal teeth.
This seal means the growing and delivery process has been inspected and certified to be non-GMO (with a couple rare exceptions) and free of pesticides. Look for this seal:The USDA ORGANIC seal means the growing and delivery process has been inspected and certified. Click To Tweet
Organic produce is indeed more nutritious
Pesticide proponents will often point to a 2012 study from Stanford as proof that organic produce is no more nutritious than conventional produce. While the Stanford study did conclude,“consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”, researchers like Dr. Kirsten Brandt point out that it either omitted or undervalued select nutrients from the comparison; nutrients that were already known to be higher in organic food.
Dr. Brandt is an agricultural scientist who studies how different agricultural conditions effect the nutritional density and composition of produce. Her research found organic food to contain an average of 16% more secondary metabolites. These includes the antioxidant compounds, polyphenols, flavonoids, and all the other phytonutrients. Another study found antioxidants to be 20-40% higher in organic food (study)
Dr. Brant also found organic food to contain 6% more vitamin C. (study)
A 2010 study examined the quality of three strawberry varieties. While smaller, the organic strawberries were more dense, brighter, had more vitamin C, lasted longer on the shelf and were more resistant to fungus, despite not ever being treated with anti-fungals. They also won the blind taste test.
Scientists wanted to understand why some studies showed more or less difference between organic and non-organic produce. They found the longer soil was worked using organic methods, the more nutrient-dense the produce would be. Produce from “mature” organic farms had more nutrients than produce from new organic farms. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Organic farmers rely on crop rotation, companion planting, and animal manure in place of synthetic fertilizers, weed killers, and pesticides to control pests and maintain the quality and integrity of the soil.”
Freshness makes a huge difference in nutrient density
One of the reasons you are better off finding local organic produce, in-season, is because freshness dramatically effects nutrient density. Nutrients begin to decline the moment produce is harvested.
A 2008 study determined peppers, tomatoes, apricots, peaches and papayas had higher vitamin C content right when they were picked ripe from the plant. Another study compared the vitamin C content in supermarket broccoli shipped from another country (out of season locally) and supermarket broccoli in-season locally. Vitamin C was twice as high in the local, in-season broccoli.
Jo Robinson wrote a great book on how freshness impacts the nutrient density of produce. It’s called Eating on the Wild Side.Vitamin C was twice as high in the local, in-season broccoli. Freshness effects nutrient density. Click To Tweet
Go organic to detox and lower your toxic burden
Dr. Amy Myers says, “The cumulative impact of daily exposure to these toxins increases your risk of developing an autoimmune disease, and can cause your condition to progress if you’ve already been diagnosed.” Reducing you exposure to toxins is a key pillar of preventing and reversing autoimmune diseases.
Your body will eventually process out most toxins if you simply stop exposing yourself to them. Switching to organic food is one of the most effective steps.
A 2005 study found that children adopting an organic diet showed a dramatic decrease in urinary concentrations of organophosphorus pesticides in as little as 15 days.
Researchers in Sweden took urine samples from a family before and after their switch to organic food. Pesticide levels dropped significantly in a couple weeks. They produced this light hearted video, but the results are sobering. (And I’m now officially afraid of Swedish mothers.)
The fastest way to make a dent in detoxification is to switch to organic food, but don’t forget the personal care and cleaning products. They are a potent source of toxicity when applied to skin or inhaled.
It is especially important for young children and women who are trying to conceive, pregnant, or breastfeeding to eat organic. They are most susceptible to being harmed by pesticide residue, antibiotics, hormones and heavy metals.Children going organic showed a decrease in urinary concentrations of pesticides in 15 days. Click To Tweet
Organic is not more expensive. That’s an illusion.
The cost of food is not as simple as the price tag in the store. Here are some additional considerations:
- The USDA spends over $25 billion dollars annually on subsidies to non-organic farms. That would be about $79 per person in the US, if everyone chipped in equally. But since only 45 percent of Americans pay federal income tax (per Forbes), the cost is around $143 per taxpayer. These subsidies are primarily distributed to those who grow wheat, corn and soy; the staple ingredients of all processed food.
- Previously in this post, we’ve seen that food laced with GMOs, chemicals, antibiotics, hormones and heavy metals can cause cancer, liver and kidney toxicity, infertility, autism, dementia, obesity, Alzheimer sand Parkinson’s. If you get cancer, expect the bill to be around $49,000 annually (Forbes in 2012). Patients trying to overcome infertility spend about $12,400 annually (National Infertility Association). Autism Speaks says the average added cost of autism-related healthcare and education in the US is over $17,000 per child. The average cost for Alzheimers is around $57,400 per year (Alzheimer’s Association). Parkinson’s will run you about $22,800 annually (Parkinson’s Disease Foundation). Obesity would cost a person with the condition an extra $2,741 per year in medical costs alone back in 2005 (Harvard School of Public Health).
- Organic food is not subsidized. Rather, organic farmers must pay “a few hundred to several thousand dollars” to be inspected and certified according to the USDA. The average cost is usually in the thousands and then there are annual renewal costs on top of that.
- One of the most significant costs and issues of our time is healthcare. According to an MIT scientist who used the governments own data, the rate of disease is skyrocketing with a 99.8% correlation to the amount of pesticides sprayed on crops. But spraying alone isn’t causing such an increase in diseases. If consumers didn’t purchase and eat chemical-sprayed products, the spraying and disease would decline rapidly.
Food either produces health or harms it. When comparing apples to apples, don’t forget to factor in the health-cost of added chemicals. Once we recalibrate thinking to reject substances that harm health, we find it’s actually cheaper in the long run to eat organic.Organic food is actually cheaper after you factor in the health and environmental costs. Click To Tweet
How to afford organic food this week
I get it. You’ve been used to a budget based on subsidized food and drug co-pays. The price tag on organic food is a jolt at first. But don’t let go of the fact that this is a food safety issue.
The good news is, you can actually eat organic and spend less on food. I can’t tell you it’s easy (yet), but it’s possible with some determination. It’s also getting easier as more people go organic and businesses compete over an exploding new customer base.
I’ve assembled a list of ways to make health-producing food more affordable in another post called How to Eat Organic on a Budget – Over 50 Tips!. Here are a few ideas from that list.
- You can save approximately 40-50% by buying conventionally grown, non-organic produce when third party lab testing provides a reasonable assurance that the risk of pesticide traces is low. The Wellness Repair Food Facts page details what foods should always be organic and what other foods don’t necessarily need to be. You can pull my food facts up on your phone next time you’re at the grocery store.
- Buy fresh produce when it is in season, on sale or both.
- Stock up on non-perishable items when you find them on sale. Buy in bulk.
- Plan out your meals ahead for the coming week according to what is on sale and according to the coupons you have. Pre-planning is the #1 advantage you can give yourself when trying to make health-producing choices.
- Cook your meals instead of going to restaurants. You’ll free up a lot of money for healthier food.
- Keep meals simple with minimal ingredients. Simple meals are healthy meals. A benefit of combining one-ingredient foods is and end to the nightmare of cryptic ingredient lists.
- Cut junk food out completely and replace with healthy foods like nuts, fruit, veggies and hummus.
- Drink water. Purify water at home instead of buying bottled water.
- Eat more veggies. The extra fiber will help you feel full and eat less. If you eat less, you’ll spend less.
- We surrendered personal responsibility for food and health to industries that have repeatedly failed to deliver health.
- EPA makes the rules, often much slower than other countries. FDA enforces. USDA measures and reports.
- Chemical exposures add up to create a toxic burden that can overwhelm your natural ability to detox. Switching to an organic diet will quickly and measurably reduce your toxic burden.
- Legally allowed pesticide exposure levels are especially harmful to children and linked to poor mental development, lower IQ and birth defects. In adults pesticides are linked to cancer, allergies, asthma, IBS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes and more.
- Glyphosate usage correlates over 98% to CDC rates of cancer, dementia and autism. Glyphosate (Roundup) is the most popular herbicide and sprayed liberally on over 90% of the food crops in the US.
- Growth hormones injected into dairy cows increase the risk of cancer in humans; especially breast cancer. It also increases instances of mastitis in cows by 80%. Monsanto, maker of Posilac, threatened Fox News with legal action if they ran a story on the dangers of growth hormones. Fox pulled the plug on the story (video from the Fox reporters above).
- Antibiotics added to non-organic food harm beneficial gut bacteria, which leads to disease. Herbicides like glyphosate are also powerful antibiotics. Concentrations are highest in fat from animals, but a pesticide-laced apple can be another source of gut harming antibiotics.
- GMOs and pesticides go together. Exposure to GMOs produced large tumors in 50-80% of female rats after only 4-7 months.
- 93% of chemical food additives in the FDA database lack required toxicology data. No one is testing these chemicals for safety in your food or personal care products.
- Animals fed irradiated foods had increased tumors, reproductive failures and kidney damage.
- Sewage sludge contains hundreds of dangerous pathogens in high concentrations. It’s not fit to be spread on your garden.
- Heavy metals exposure can lead to cancer, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease and hormone imbalances.
- The USDA ORGANIC seal means the growing and delivery process has been inspected and certified.
- Organic food is usually more nutritious, measuring 16% higher in secondary metabolites and 20-40% higher in antioxidants. The longer soil was worked using organic methods, the more nutrient-dense the produce would be.
- Freshness dramatically effects nutrient density.Vitamin C can be twice as high immediately after produce is picked from the plant.
- The fastest way to make a dent in detoxification is to switch to organic food. Don’t forget the personal care and cleaning products, as they contribute heavily to your overall toxic burden.
- Organic food is actually cheaper after you factor in the health and environmental costs, often hidden in taxes.
- The secret to making organic food quickly affordable in your current budget is planing and preparation.
If you’re concerned about agri-chemicals harming the health of your loved ones, please share this information. Also, realize you have more power to disrupt a broken food and health system than you may think. Ultimately, all industries are financed by you an me. When we buy organic and encourage our friends to do the same, it sends the one message frankenfood producers will listen to.
If you need a step-by-step plan to clean up your food, hormones and cognitive function, the Wellness Repair Plan can help.
Dietary Influences on the Development of Autoimmune Conditions – Why Good Foods Can make You Sick
In this presentation byDr. Tom O’Bryan, you will learn:
- Why the #3 cause of death could actually be the #1 cause of death – and how we’re all at risk without knowing it.
- The secret lives of “sleeper antibodies” and how they can elevate to disastrous levels before we experience ANY symptoms.
- Why “gut permeability” can make or break not only your health but how you FEEL each day – and the #1 food to avoid to prevent it from raging within you.
Dr. Mercola Interviews Andre Leu on His Book, “The Myths of Safe Pesticides”
The Truth About Cats, Dogs & Lawn Chemicals
Dr. Shiv Chopra on rBGH
Jim Riddle is the Organic Outreach Coordinator for the University of Minnesota and was an organic inspector for twenty years prior to that. He provides a wonderful primer on what the term and label of ‘organic’ means according to the law. At about the 8 minute mark, he tells of a young farmer that switched his own family to organic food after going through the pesticide applicator training. The farmer learned he would have to wash his clothes separately and rinse the washing machine three times before the rest of the family could wash their clothes. He went organic to protect his own family.