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Oct 2011

The Pesticide Trap

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” – Proverbs 14:12 (NIV)

Check out USA Today’s top 12 most dangerous foods regarding pesticide treatment. If possible, buy organic when purchasing these potentially “Dirty Dozen.”

2. Celery
3. Strawberries
4. Peaches
5. Spinach
6. Nectarines (imported)
7. Grapes (imported)
8. Sweet bell peppers
9. Potatoes
10. Blueberries
11. Lettuce
12. Kale/Collard greens

For produce less affected by the use of pesticides, try what I like to call “The Clean 15” listed below:

2. Corn
3. Pineapples
4. Avocadoes
5. Asparagus
6. Sweet peas
7. Mangoes
8. Eggplant
9. Cantaloupe (domestic)
10. Kiwi
11. Cabbage
12. Watermelon
13. Sweet potatoes
14. Grapefruit
15. Mushrooms

When it comes to food, I’m amazed at how many times I’ll think I’ll be eating the right thing, only to find out I’m wrong.

Eggs are bad—no, eggs are good. Butter is bad—no, butter is better. Fat is bad—no, the right fats are good. And on and on it goes.

Sometimes we can get by with this and not suffer any major consequences, but often not getting it right can have serious side-effects.

As a kid, I loved going to my grandfather’s farm. I spent many summers working with him in the country, and, through my experience, I saw firsthand that farmers are some of the hardest-working and most productive people around. Today, though, I believe they’ve gotten stuck between a rock and a hard place. In order to maintain the expected crop yields, many of them have been caught in a “pesticide trap,” in which they are forced to put harmful chemicals on crops in order to meet the demands and make a living.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 2 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the U.S. alone. Over time “super-bugs” and “super-weeds” have developed a resistance to these chemicals, forcing farmers to use more and more in order to prevent crop loss. As this happens, the pesticides have made their way into the foods we eat, the water we drink, and the environment in which we live.

For decades, we’ve been applying pesticides to our farmland and gardens thinking it’s the right thing to do. Unfortunately, we’re now discovering that they are responsible for many forms of poor health and chronic disease. A new study out of Harvard University shows that even tiny, allowable amounts of common pesticides can have dramatic effects on our brain’s chemistry. In fact, kids with above-average pesticide exposures are twice as likely to have ADHD. Pesticides are also documented by the CDC as causing cancer, neurological problems, respiratory issues, birth defects and hormone imbalances.

Based on science and research, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made recommendations as to what Americans should eat. The Surgeon General and the National Cancer Institute, along with the USDA, now recommend that we eat between five and 13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. That’s undeniably the “right” thing to do for our health, but, if those fruits and vegetables are increasingly contaminated with chemical pesticides, we’re getting a dose of bad with the good. And unfortunately not even washing resolves the issue, as some pesticides are actually inside the produce.

In order to make wise decisions for our bodies, the best thing we can do is be informed and make better choices regarding our food consumption. Try these four action
steps to get started:

1. When possible, buy organic. Make small, gradual changes with your favorite items to help you reduce your intake of pesticides.

2. Substitute items on the Dirty Dozen list for cleaner options. Check out the side chart and make swaps when necessary.

3. Wash your conventionally grown produce. This helps remove external pesticides.

4. Support local farmers. Shop at a farmer’s market and buy produce from local farmers who are often able to use fewer pesticides, incorporate safer pest-management strategies, and who are committed to natural or organic practices.

When we know the right thing to do, we should find ways to do it. This goes back to Scripture (James 4:17). While the Bible doesn’t say that eating pesticides is a sin, it does say that we are to care for our bodies as the temple of His Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Therefore, we need to make every effort to put into them what will help us be effective for His Kingdom.

The more we know about the harmful effects of pesticides, the more diligent we should be in reducing our consumption of them. Yes, finding healthy, affordable foods can be challenging, but it’s worth it. It’s like I always say...Live a fit life. C’mon, you can do this!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: For nearly 20 years, Jimmy Page has been involved in various leadership roles in the medical fitness industry. As the former national director of FCA’s Health and Fitness Ministry, Page now serves as one of FCA’s 11 vice presidents of field ministry and is the co-author of the book WisdomWalks. He and his wife, Ivelisse, reside in Reistertown, Md., with their four children.

Medical Disclaimer: All information in this article is of a general nature and is furnished for your knowledge and understanding only. For serious health symptoms, always consult a physician or health professional.

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