This weekend I sent my husband out early on Saturday morning to buy berries (I may have said it was a pregnancy-related craving). Now he didn’t used to be on the organic bandwagon, but in the last several years he’s really gained interest in sustainability and green living, and without even asking he went out of this way to find the organic strawberries and blueberries. He did mention that the blueberries in particular were rather expensive, at $5 for a half-pint.
Well, a few days later I saw this article, and sent it to him as an example for why we shouldn’t feel too bad spending a little extra money on organic produce. The article talks about new research that correlates high levels of organophosphate pesticides (commonly found on berries, celery, and other produce) with ADHD in children. Basically researchers tested the levels of these pesticides in kids’ urine and found that high levesl of pesticies = a greater chance that the kid had ADHD. In addition, “previous research has shown an association between both prenatal and postnatal organophosphate exposure and developmental problems in young children”, meaning pesticide consumtion while your pregnant can also affect the risk of your child developing ADHD.
How common are these chemicals? “Organophosphates are one of the most widely used pesticides in agriculture to protect crops and fruits and vegetables,” Bouchard noted. “For children, the major source of exposure would be the diet — fruits and vegetables in particular.”
While researchers don’t know exactly how these chemicals are impacting the body, there are some educated hypotheses, “organophosphates may inhibit acetylcholinesterase, a nervous system enzyme…[and] lower doses of the pesticide may affect different growth factors and neurotransmitters.” Basically these chemicals change how your brain chemistry and nervous system, i.e. nerves, work. When you read that many common pesticides are neurotoxins, this is an example of what that really means.
So what should you do to lower your risk? Don’t stop eating fruits and veggies, but buy organic when you can. Even better, go to a local farmer’s market (see my resources tab) and ask the farmer what their policy is towards using chemicals. Most of them are more than happy to talk to you about it (and if they’re not, you don’t want to buy from them anyways!). Local small farms are much more concientious about using chemicals, because they eat their own produce and are intimately conerned about the health of their land. And always wash your produce when you get home. I use a veggie wash or simply add a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar to a bowl of water for a quick soak (5-10 mins), then rinse with clean water. And, washing all of your fruits and veggies on market day will make it easy throughout the whole week to grab and go straight from the fridge. The best of summer is on the way, so enjoy and happy eating!