Friday, January 20, 2012

Would you like some 1,3-Dichloropropene with your dinner?

1,3-Dichloropropene is a pesticide widely used in the USA on common produce items -- potatoes, beets, onions, carrots, sweet potatoes and peanuts.

I watched a short YouTube video this morning. A young girl's vine-growing experiment turned into a lesson on toxins. It inspired me to write a post on organics.

Most of us go to the grocery store to buy our food, not really thinking about where our food came from and how it got there. A few years ago, before I went back to school to become a nutritionist, I was more than skeptical about the 'organic' label. How do I know that those apples are organic and the ones next to it aren't? Yes, there are stickers on them, but how do I know for sure? Organics are, after all, more expensive. I then learned what it takes to become an organic farmer. It's not glamorous. Farmers need to operate as an organic farm for SEVEN years before they can receive the designation. That means that they are receiving no credit for whatsoever for growing their crops without the use of pesticides, herbicides and the like. These people aren't doing it for the money. They are passionate about their farm and take pride in what they're growing (in a very healthy way).

I do my best to eat foods that only contain ingredients that I've heard of, so things like fludioxonil, iprodione and azinphos methyl don't fall onto that list. These are just a few of the (very) common pesticides found on our non-organic produce. Most of the pesticides on our produce are proven carcinogens (cancer-causing), hormone disruptors, neurotoxins and developmental and reproductive toxins. On the more minor side, they can cause headaches, dizziness, fatigue, foggy brain, confusion etc. The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit who provides a ton of research and info on health related topics, has done numerous studies on the pesticides found on/in our produce. The results are staggering. Sweet bell peppers were tested and found to contain 64 different pesticides! Peaches and apples had the highest number of pesticides detected on a single sample. They also put out a now well-known list called "The Dirty Dozen." It is a list of the top 12 most contaminated produce items. I've included the top 10 below, for those who are interested. They also put out a list of the top 12 least contaminated foods. 

When it comes to keeping healthy, we could go crazy with all of the recommendations that are now out there. There are many things that we can't control (ie. the pollution that we breathe in each day), but there are many things that we can control, including what we put in our bodies. When it comes to buying organic, I don't go too crazy. I rely on the Dirty Dozen list for my produce. I try to buy as local as possible. I like to know where my meat is coming from so I get it from a local butcher. If you're looking to switch to organics, skip the packaged items first. Buy organic meat, dairy and produce when you're able. Find farmers markets as well. As I mentioned, it is quite the undertaking to become an organic farms so some people simply can't afford it. By talking to farmers at the markets, you might find out that they are operating as an organic farm already. 

Pesticides are harsh enough on an adult body, imagine what they do to a 15-pound baby's body? This is why I've chosen to feed the girls organic produce. Their little bodies need to spend time growing and not dealing with the effects of pesticides. 

Lastly, if you're still skeptical, buy a package of organic and non-organic strawberries this summer. I guarantee that you'll be able to taste the difference. 

The top 10 most contaminated produce            The top 10 least contaminated produce

  1. Peach                                                            1. Onion
  2. Apple                                                            2. Avocado           
  3. Sweet bell pepper                                          3. Pineapple
  4. Celery                                                            4. Mango
  5. Nectarine                                                       5. Asparagus
  6. Strawberries                                                6. Kiwi
  7. Cherries                                                       7. Cabbage
  8. Kale                                                            8. Eggplant
  9. Lettuce and spinach                                    9. Papaya
  10. Grapes (imported)                                    10. Watermelon


  1. Thanks for posting about this. I've been trying to steer our family towards healthier options and this has given me a lot of information. We switched to a local butcher for meat a couple of months ago, and we're considering switching to organic for some fruits and veggies.

  2. @Shannon - Thanks for the comment. I'm so glad that my post was helpful!

  3. that is crazy!! Thank you for the list. I try and wash the produce ...but I know that is don't wash away everything. In the summer..we have a beautiful is ALOT of work to be pesticide free....
    I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can!