Fertility Killing Pesticides & The Solution
Should I Eat Organic If I'm Trying For A Baby?
I don't know about you, but buying organic for me can sometimes feel like flossing. You know you should because it will benefit your health in the long-run, but that very immediate now (or 25-75% premium in organic food's case) is brutal. Do organics really hail from sunny pastures, or are they talking the talk just to suck my wallet dry (because I go for it every time)? Turns out, it's a good thing that I do because eating organic is optimal for healthy reproduction. The proof is in the pudding (organic pudding, we hope), and we're here to tell you why.
Traces of pesticides in conventional foods have lead to cases of unresponsive reproductive systems, weak endocrine systems, unviable eggs, failure to ovulate, hormone imbalances, and lower sperm count and sperm quality for dudes.* Organophosphates are some of the nastiest pesticide compounds, making up 70% of pesticidal use in the United States.** A recent study by the Environmental Health Perspectives found that people who consumed little or no organic food had roughly twice as many organophosphates in their bodies as those who ate primarily organic.***
The Environmental Working Group brought a ton of awareness to the danger of environmental pollutants in 2005, when they published a study on the examination of 10 randomly picked newborns from hospitals across the United States. Each baby's umbilical cord was examined for traces of industrial chemicals, and the result? Close to 287 chemicals were found in each, making the EWG conclude that industrial pollution begins in the womb.**** It kind of makes me want to cry.
The range of industrial chemicals found in the umbilical cords was astounding, making you realize that buying organic down to your bed sheets isn't as over-the-top as it maybe once seemed. Among the chemicals found were "eight perfluorochemicals used as stain and oil repellants in fast food packaging, clothes and textiles — including the Teflon chemical PFOA, recently characterized as a likely human carcinogen by the EPA's Science Advisory Board — dozens of widely used brominated flame retardants and their toxic by-products; and numerous pesticides.”****
Equally troubling is the discovery that many of these chemicals may lead to Ovarian Disease, which is passed on to future generations in what researchers call "epigenetic transgenerational inheritance."***** 10 percent of the world's female population suffers from ovarian disease, and scientists are speculating that fungicides, pesticides, plastics, dioxins and hydrocarbon mixtures are to blame. Another reason to eat organic, for prosperity's sake!
Eating exclusively organic can be complicated and expensive, so before we send you fretting down the aisles of your local health store throwing down Benjamin Franklins (don't), we thought we'd share some tips.
We got our hands on The Environmental Working Group's 2017 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, and think it's pretty rad. The newly revised list of "The Dirty Dozen," or produce ranked by highest pesticide residue, has some new additions this year (cherry tomatoes and cucumbers were knocked off from previous years, replaced by pears and potatoes).****** Here is the list in order:
- Sweet Bell Peppers
If you consume any of these often probably best to stick to organic. The good news? The EWG has compiled "The Clean 15," a list of produce that is least likely to contain traces of pesticide residue. If you need to pick and choose your organic battles, this is a good starting point.
- Sweet Corn
- Frozen Sweet Peas
- Honeydew Melon
Always remember that conventional produce can still contain pesticides even if it's been washed, and in many cases peeled.***** Also, labels that say "natural," or "organic" without the USDA Organic seal may not be following federal regulations, and therefore may still be at risk for containing pesticides and other undesirables.
THE NITTY GRITTY
***Curl CL, Beresford SA, Fenske RA, Fitzpatrick AL, Lu C, Nettleton JA, Kaufman JD. 2015. Estimating pesticide exposure from dietary intake and organic food choices: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Environ Health Perspect 123:475–483; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1408197
*****Washington State University. "Environmental toxicants causing ovarian disease across generations." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120503194213.htm>.
(No conflicts of interest present in the above sources)