What’s the deal with organic foods? They usually look a little smaller than the regular ones and are often more expensive.


So why do people put up with that to eat them? We are going to look at the 4 top reasons that you may want to consider.


First- what does organic mean? Produce can be called ‘organic’ in the US only if it’s certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest. Prohibited substances include most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.


Products labeled “organic” must contain at least 95% organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt). Any remaining ingredients must consist of non-agricultural substances that appear on the NOP National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.


The danger of course with nonorganic fruits and vegetables is that they are exposed to many pesticides that are toxic to humans. And unfortunately washing or peeling the produce does little to lower this exposure.  Here are the 4 worst ones:     


[1]  First is Paraquat. It is one of the most widely used herbicides in the US for the control of weeds in many agricultural and non-agricultural settings. It is also used as a defoliant on crops, such as cotton, prior to harvest.  A 2013 meta-analysis published in Neurology found that ‘exposure to paraquat … was associated with about a 2-fold increase in risk’ of Parkinson’s disease. Paraquat is structurally similar to MPP+, a known fast-acting inducer of Parkinson’s disease in primate brains known as  Cyperquat. Yikes!!


[2]  A chemical called glycine methyl phosphate or for short – Glyphosate has been a key component of the widely used weedkiller Roundup from Monsanto since 1974 when it was introduced. Although still in use in the US, The WHO recently classified it as “probably carcinogenic in humans”.  Glyphosate has several pathologic actions in humans. Because of its similarity to the amino acid glycine it is suggested that it can substitute for it in proteins and interfere with their action. It is reported to be found in cereals such as Cheerios although maker General Mills claims that the dose is low. While the role of glyphosate as a neurotoxin is still debated, this is another reason to eat organic.


[3]. 1,3-Dichloropropene is an organochlorine compound used mainly in farming as a pesticide. It is specifically used as a preplant fumigant and nematicide which kills plant-parasitic nematodes.  It is widely used in the US and other countries but is in the process of being phased out in the European Union. The US Department of Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency have classified 1,3-dichloropropene as a probable human carcinogen.


[4].  The most famous organochlorine compound is an insecticide known as Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane or for short-the much catchier name- DDT. Opposition to DDT was famously focused by the 1962 publication of Rachel Carson‘s book Silent Spring which launched the modern environmental protection movement.  DDT is an insecticide that was eventually banned in US in 1972 but is still present in our soil. It is still in use or just recently banned in many foreign countries. DDT accumulates in the fat stores so it exists long-term.  80% of Americans still show detectable levels in their bodies. DTT causes harm by numerous mechanisms including being an endocrine disruptor which means it interferes with certain hormones and it is also classified as a probable carcinogen.


People with certain health or genetic conditions may have increased susceptibility to these pesticides.  For example ApoE4 carriers have been shown to have significantly increased cognitive impairment after high pesticide exposure.




Since purchasing organic over regular produce can be more expensive, in our next video we will discuss how to prioritize which produce to buy organic. Certain ones tend to have. higher pesticide levels and should always be purchased organic.

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