“Food is made from food.”
This was a statement from a Chipotle commercial. It was incredibly profound, yet incredibly simple. Food, no matter what its form, should be made from food – whether it’s meatloaf, pancakes, ice cream, or lasagna. Since when did we accept alternatives? Food made from something created in a laboratory? Food laced with chemicals designed to boost crop production yet at the same time destroy weeds and pests?
Most of us have heard the terms “The Terrible 20” or “The Dirty Dozen.” Both relate to fruits and vegetables that are known to be highly tainted by chemical residues. But how many of us know this truth yet still purchase non-organic versions? Are we skeptical of this information or simply choosing to save a few bucks at the register?
There has been a significant uptick in the news on the herbicide, glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in the product Roundup. The International Agency for Research on Cancer at the World Health Organization has determined that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” This, plus other research has prompted several countries to ban the non-commercial use of products that contain this chemical. Countries like the Netherlands, Russia, Mexico, Germany, and Scotland. Here in the U.S., California will be labeling glyphosate a carcinogen. So, why all the changes?
Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world. Its use has increased 20-fold since 1990. The reason for this increase is the crops are now tolerant to high doses of this chemical because of genetic modifications. However, the heavy use of this chemical on plants like soybeans, sugar beets, and corn means it is still absorbed by these plants even if they are genetically modified. It is also absorbed in the soil, run off water, and in honey. So, if the plants contain the chemical and we eat it – either as an ear of corn or corn that is use to make a tortilla – then our body is exposed to a chemical that is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” In fact, recent research is indicating a link to liver and kidney damage, various forms of cancer like non-Hodgkin lymphoma, birth defects, and nervous system damage.
Being aware is the first step. The next step is opting for organic produce whenever possible. If resources are limited, then educate yourself on what fruits and vegetables are the most hazardous from the Environmental Working Group: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php. One other option is joining a community-supported agriculture program where you receive regular shipments of fresh produce from a local farmer.
Remember, food should really come from food, but the food it comes from should not be laced with chemicals.