Most of the food we consume goes through quite a long process to reach our plates. Fresh fruits and vegetables are no different. We usually make sure to wash our produce before we consume it, but is that enough? The Pesticide Action Network presents evidence and many types of pesticides being found on common foods such as apples and peaches. Some of these pesticides are linked to cancer.
They also note that some pesticides are “systemic, meaning they are taken up by roots and distributed throughout the plant — so no amount of washing will remove them.” Everyone will react to pesticides differently, but many of them take some time to be flushed out of the body and can accumulate over time. They also have the potential to harm children in the womb, causing neurological disorders.
“What’s on my Food” is a great site that allows you to search through food items to see what pesticides have been found on that food item, what ones are hormone disruptors, carcinogens, and development or reproductive toxins.
Health Canada maintains that Canadian produce is regulated and the levels of residue found are nothing to worry about and are not linked to any health issues. However, they fail to mention is that farmers and those living in rural areas are at a higher risk than others because of the proximity they maintain to arears where pesticides are used: they have more exposure. Studies have also found that children exposed to pesticides are much more likely to develop ADHD. This is not the only harm. Despite the fact that the Canadian and American government’s state that organic food is no better and pesticide residue is harmless, there are many arguments that it can lead to headaches, nausea, skin conditions, eye irritation and cancer.
The use of pesticides is not only harming those of us who consume them, but also the environment. Obviously pesticides are meant to eliminate ‘pests,’ but they do their job too well, harming species that are not their targets, and polluting the air and water. They also damage the land they are intended to protect by killing worms, insects and organisms in the soil.
One way to protect ourselves against pesticides and prevent more harm to the environment is to start buying locally grown, organic food. There are plenty of studies that argue organic food is healthier than non-organic food, in addition to being pesticide free. Many people believe that organic food is too expensive to buy. It usually is slightly more expensive, but it’s not outrageous (I can afford it as a broke university student, so I believe in you). I would also argue that it is worth spending a dollar more if it means reducing the amount of chemicals you’re ingesting, but that is just a personal choice.