I’m a big proponent of organic foods. My dad, Minor H. Slingsby, died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was a farmer. I didn’t know non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was linked to pesticide exposure when my dad was diagnosed with the disease. None of his doctors in Central Washington state said anything about it. I learned about the connection when listening to a National Public Radio story. It said the children of farmworkers were being diagnosed with high levels of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma because they were in fields sprayed with pesticides with their parents.
I buy most of my food at my local food co-op, with as much as possible of it being organic. I have immune system problems, so organic food is helpful to me.
This recent study adds to the evidence of how organic food benefits people.
A study done at the University of California found that eating organically-grown food for one week can significantly reduce the levels of pesticide in the body. Researchers found the levels of toxins decreased by an average of 60.5 percent after six days of eating organic food.
Exposure to pesticides has been linked to many adverse health outcomes including asthma, infertility, hormone imbalances, autoimmune disorders, and impaired cognitive development.
The study followed four families from throughout the United States – Oakland, Minneapolis, Baltimore, and Atlanta. For days one through five, participants ate as they normally would. Then, for days six through 11, they followed a strictly organic diet. This meant that everything was organically-produced including organic oils, condiments, and spices.
Urine samples were collected to test the levels of pesticides in the body. The most significant decrease was with organophosphates, a highly toxic pesticide linked to brain damage in children – a 95 percent drop in malathion. Neonicotinoids, which causes the loss of pollinators and insects, also saw a significant decrease – an 83 percent drop in clothianidin.
“This study shows that organic works,” said Kendra Klein, Ph.D., co-author of the study and a senior scientist at Friends of the Earth, an environmental organization. “We have the right to food that is free of toxic pesticides. Farmers and farm workers growing our nation’s food and rural communities have a right not to be exposed to chemicals linked to cancer, autism, and infertility.”
It's good news that more grocery stores, such as Safeway and Fred Meyer, are now offering organic food. Although it is still more expensive than conventionally grown food, the prices are coming down as consumption continues to increase.