How to Minimize Pesticide Exposure if Organic is Not Available

The food cooked in my house is pretty close to being 100% organic.  We strive to minimize our pesticide exposure as much as we possibly can due to its many dangers.  Health risks from pesticide exposure include the following (but not limited to):

  • brain and nervous system toxicity
  • cancer
  • hormone disruption
  • skin, eye and lung irritation

Pesticides are designed to kill living organisms (pests – insects, plants, fungi) and they do just that.  I consider myself a living organism so why would I want to eat something that is designed to kill?  It has been proven that pesticides pose health risks to humans.  To me, its a no-brainer – avoid pesticides at all costs.

The popular argument against buying all organic food is the cost.  Yes, it is a bit more money at the grocery store but it is less money and pain later in health care costs and illness.

Another reason why people may not purchase organic foods is that it might not be available.  I have encountered this problem myself when traveling and don’t have a local farm resource.

Eating fruits and vegtables is a super important part of a healthy diet so if your issue is cost or availability you should not avoid eating them all together.  One thing you can do is use the Environmental Working Group’s research on the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 to minimize your risk (see the chart below).

Cost. If your main concern when buying organic is the cost, then you can use this guide to help you save money.  You will see the cleanest vegetable is onions.  If you are in the store and you see that conventional onions are a lot cheaper then organic onions then you should purchase the conventional onions (only if your main concern is cost – if your concern is pesticide exposure always buy organic). In this case you can save a little money on buying onions and use the money you saved to buy organic apples because apples have the most pesticide residue on them out of all fruits and vegetables so you never want to buy conventional apples.

Availability. If I am in a place where I can’t get all organic food I use this guide to help me.  For example, if I am looking for fruit to snack on in the summer time and there are no organic fruits available I would choose to buy cantaloupe instead of peaches because peaches are very high on the dirty list and cantaloupe has a decent rank on the clean list.  My main point here in this post is to help you minimize pesticide exposure but another thing to consider is the seasonality of the fruit.  It’s always best to eat fruit that is in season and even better to eat fruit that is locally grown.

Download your own printable version of this guide here: Enviornmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides and Produce

Is this information useful? What strategies do you use to save money on organic and healthy foods?  I would love to hear from you in the comment section below.

This post was shared in Fresh Bites Friday and Freaky Friday

This Could Cause Permanent Damage to Your Child’s Health

One of the most important things you can do for your health is to eat organic food.  Laboratory studies show that pesticides can cause health problems, such as birth defects, nerve damage, cancer, and other effects that might occur over a long period of time.  There are especially high risks for children.  The below information is from the EPA website in regards to pesticide dangers for children:

Infants and children may be especially sensitive to health risks posed by pesticides for several reasons:

  • their internal organs are still developing and maturing,
  • in relation to their body weight, infants and children eat and drink more than adults, possibly increasing their exposure to pesticides in food and water.
  • certain behaviors–such as playing on floors or lawns or putting objects in their mouths–increase a child’s exposure to pesticides used in homes and yards.

Pesticides may harm a developing child by blocking the absorption of important food nutrients necessary for normal healthy growth. Another way pesticides may cause harm is if a child’s excretory system is not fully developed, the body may not fully remove pesticides. Also, there are “critical periods” in human development when exposure to a toxin can permanently alter the way an individual’s biological system operates.

For these reasons, and as specifically required under the Food Quality Protection Act (1996) , EPA carefully evaluates children’s exposure to pesticide residues in and on foods they most commonly eat, i.e., apples and apple juice, orange juice, potatoes, tomatoes, soybean oil, sugar, eggs, pork, chicken and beef. EPA is also evaluating new and existing pesticides to ensure that they can be used with a reasonable certainty of no harm to adults as well as infants and children. 

Usually government agencies don’t say things like this becuase it interferes with big businesses.  There are a lot of financial ties between big corporations and the government which is why it’s hard to beleive it when the government tells us things are safe.  When there is a governement agency like the EPA is saying that something is not safe it means it’s pretty serious.

One major reason why people are hesitant to buy organic food is the cost.  In reality this isn’t a really good reason becuase eating a lot of pesticde ridden food will lead to health problems which will be much more costly then organic food.  One great way to save some money on the grocery bill is to follow the Enviornmental Working Group’s Pesticide in Produce Guide.  This will show you which fruits and veggies you must buy organic and which you can get away with buying conventional if organic is not available or not affordable.

Personally, I buy all organic all the time unless I am away from home or in a place where I can’t get organic.  This is so important for your health and especially your children’s health.

This post is listed in KellytheKitchenKop’s Real Food Wednesdays

Here is another great blog post on Toxins in our life, great information here!

Safe and Natural Sunscreen

Technically, it’s not summer yet but it sure feels like it in New York.  Temperatures have been in the 90’s for a few days now.  The heat and sunshine always brings up the topic of safe sunscreens for children (and adults).  Recently, there has been a lot of information in the news about different ingredients in sunscreens and also about the effectiveness.  A great resource for all parents concerned about sunscreen is the Enviornmental Working Group.  This organization does a lot of research on sunscreen, their ingredients, effectiveness, and rates specific brands.  

Last year, our pediatrician reccommeded a suncreen for our daughter called Soleo which works great and is safe to use on children. The EWG has a list of over a thousand brands of suncreen and they give each one a rating based on the safety of the ingredients in the product.  This is a great resource for parents when choosing a sunscreen for your children.  This season I am having a hard time getting Soleo (it isn’t available in stores so it has to be ordered online), so I have been doing a lot of reading on this topic. 

Sunscreen makers offer mineral and non-mineral formulations, as well as products that combine both mineral and non-mineral active ingredients. Mineral formulations incorporate zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.  The most common ingredients in non-mineral sunscreens are oxybenzone, octisalate, octinoxate, and avobenzone.  The most common, oxybenzone, can trigger allergic reactions, is a potential hormone disruptor and penetrates the skin in relatively large amounts.  The mineral formulations have shown to be safer and more effective then the chemical sunscreen.  

For more details and information visit theEnviornmental Working Group 

Here are links to some options of safe and effective sunscreen: