Keeping the momentum going from last week, I plan on sharing more knowledge that has shifted my paradigm. Sharing information that has altered my metric and altered my relationship with food and the world around me.
For many years I have heard the phrase “buy organic” but never really "bought" into it so to speak. As a broke college kid, I went for the most affordable options in the grocery store. Post graduation, I stuck to my "penny pincher" ways as I always thought it was a scheme for me to pay more for the same product.
I honestly had no idea what all of this “organic” hogwash was about and didn’t quite “believe” in it. My beliefs, lack of knowledge and my bank account hindered me from exploring what this thoroughly meant for food, quality of crop (food), quality of life surrounding the grown food, and quality life of the consumer.
Well, as I said last week I intend on sharing my knowledge so that others can learn too. So here I go, here is what I have learned.
Lets start with the definition of a pesticide. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “a substance used for destroying insects or other organisms harmful to cultivated plants or animals.” Okay, makes sense right? This is a logical thought train: protect the crops to protect the food.
Have you ever stopped to ponder where or how scientists came up with the concept of pesticides? After the World War's they had leftover chemicals that they didn't want to waste. For example, taking chlorine and converting it into chlorinated hydrocarbons (DDT - pesticide). So rather than using these substances to kill humans (their initial intent) they altered the compounds so that they would kill pests, insects, fungi, and small animals (creating this blanket effect) instead.
What struck me to the core was where pesticides are used. I just thought they were related to our food. Breaking it down, I knew pesticides were used in the synthetic fertilizer that the crops are grown in, I knew it was sprayed directly on the plant itself, its also in certain seed companies prior to planting/sprouting, and is sprayed multiple times during growth, cutting, packaging, transport before it makes it to the shelf at the super market.
Well, my ignorance got the better of me here. Not only is it used in the growth and production of our food but it is used in most things we come into contact with every single day.
This includes mattresses, building materials, concrete foundations, dry cleaning, fabrics such as cotton, public transportation, as well as the side of roads and railways. When you think about it, it all makes sense as to why, to improve their "shelf life" before replacement is inevitable. Whether its a mattress being taken over by bed bugs, or a railroad's infrastructure cracking from weeds and plants breaking through.
When you break it down even further and think of the ramifications of pesticides it brings you down a scary rabbit hole. One I found myself getting sucked into like a vortex, this past week.
Pesticide poisoning and exposure is linked to mental health increases, acts as endocrine system as a disruptor. This means that the pesticide mimic's your hormones and go through your body causing destruction along the way.
Adversely, pesticides also alter how your DNA and RNA is replicated, which is how your cells regenerate, is correlated to gastrointestinal distress, has impacts on pregnancy and fetal development, is stored in our soft tissues, and impacts our immune system, nervous system, and respiratory system…
The most concerning part is that pesticides are fat-soluble. This means that with repeated exposure they get into the body and are stored. Continual exposure to this causes a compounding effect, making it more and more toxic inside of us.
Back in the sixties, people began to push back against the use of pesticides (ie. Rachel Carson). This was because pesticides were literally sprayed and used on everything. To prove this, I have attached a link to a video at the end of this post. Advertisements and marketing campaigns were proponents of pesticides and selling the idea they are good for you to the people. However, the push back against pesticides was strong and led to a few of these pesticides being banned in both the US and in Canada.
At first I was like "hell yay! Way to go Canada in the terms of health progression," my excitement faltered once more information was revealed to me. Presently, these same banned pesticides are being sold to other countries around the world, where they spray their crops with these pesticides. These same sprayed crops then eat the pesticides, then get cut, packaged and transported back to North America to be sold in the supermarkets here.
So not only are the farm workers coming into direct contact with these harsh chemicals but we as the consumer are still ingesting these banned, toxic, dangerous chemicals… Pesticides have acute and chronic effects on the species that ingest it ranging from insects, rodents to larger animals such as us homo sapiens.
Looking at the impact on the environment shows again how there is a cycle and we have interfered with nature's course. Pesticides impact the species eating it, for example, the pollinators (bumblebees), dramatically impacting their survival rate. Without pollinators we will have no plants which is a large source of animal diets (wheat, grains, grass, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, etc.)
These pesticides then runoff into the water, contaminating it for every one, they then evaporate into the air, impacting air quality. Pesticides contaminate the soil that we depend on and is potentially linked to human generation damage. Finally, these pests evolve to outsmart the pesticide. This, in turn, creates super bugs that are resistant to all these chemicals and we are right back at square one...
This information is not to alarm you, just to inform you. Of course I don't want you to read this and think "f*ck, we are doomed," I just want you to be more aware. To become more conscious and mindful of where your fuel source (food) is coming from and its potential impacts on the planet.
Again, what can we do as consumers?
Buy locally, this supports farmers and encourages proper, safer farming methods. This reduces spraying during packaging and transport since transport isn't as far of a distance.
Buy organic, these products are not sprayed with pesticides, this will help minimize your exposure to pesticides. Going even one step further here, buying organic reduces direct exposure of these chemicals to all the farmers.
Its simple, put your money where your morals are. If you care about yourself, your loved ones, or those who work day in and day out to grow the food we eat, support by buying local and organic.
Check out this video to see what was going on in the fifties with pesticides - this demonstrates the direct exposure our parents, grandparents and/or great grandparents had to these pesticide chemicals. https://youtu.be/Ipbc-6IvMQI