Last month from September 21-28, Canada recognized the largest annual celebration of organic food, farming and products across the country. This annual event is an excellent opportunity to learn about organic agriculture and its positive impact on the environment and our health.
Pesticides are among the most widely used chemicals in the world and all Canadians carry pesticide residues in their bodies. Health concerns have been raised associated with chronic exposure to pesticides and include an increased risk of cancer, organ damage, birth defects, and neurological impairments such as Alzheimer’s disease. These health concerns affect all ages but more and more studies are showing quite an impact predominantly on our children.
A study published in the medical journal Pediatrics (2010) reported that children who have higher levels of organophosphate pesticides in their urine had higher rates of attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). For one of the pesticides, those children who had high levels of it had almost twice the rate of ADHD as those without any of that pesticide in their urine.
Recently, a study published by Stanford University has created much debate on whether organic is really more nutritious and better for you. They did not find strong evidence that organic foods are more nutritious or carry fewer health risks than conventional alternatives, though they did find that consumption of organic foods can reduce the risk of pesticide exposure.
Given so much discussion lately on environmental toxins and their impact on our health, I would believe eating foods with lower pesticide exposure would help to reduce our risk of developing many chronic diseases especially cancer and other neurological conditions.
One of my favourite websites for learning more about environmental toxins and their impact on our health is The Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org). The Environmental Working Group is a non-for profit organization and one of the leading environmental health research advocacy organizations. Their mission is to make sure that the public is exposed to straight facts regarding our environmental toxins so that they can make healthier choices and enjoy a cleaner environment.
I do realize that sometimes eating organic can be difficult and more expensive but providing my patients with resources such as the above website can help educate and allow them to minimize some of the toxic burden.
Infographic on Organic Facts from Canadian Trade Organic Association: