Food can be hazardous to your health if you don’t make good choices. In his books and articles, Raymond Francis has written extensively about the toxic nature of sugar, refined flour, gluten, processed oils, allergens, dairy and too much animal protein.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is foregoing organic foods, usually because it’s more expensive than conventional.
But you get what you pay for. According to Charles Benbrook, former executive director of the Board on Agriculture of the National Academy of Sciences and research professor at Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, nutrients in organic produce are generally higher than in conventional, and sometimes many times higher.
This is especially true for polyphenols, a class of 500+ antioxidant and anti-inflammatory plant nutrients that support good health and also healthy gut microflora. Polyphenols are natural pesticides that protect plants from predators. The use of chemical pesticides discourages the plant from producing them.
According to Benbrook, polyphenols “may be one of the main reasons fruits and vegetables are healthy for us.” They’ve been shown protective against heart disease, cancer, cognitive decline and many other forms of chronic disease. Benbrook participated in a 2014 international review article that found organic fruits and vegetables deliver 20-40% more antioxidant activity than their conventional counterparts.
This same article also found conventionally grown crops contaminated with significantly higher concentrations of the toxic heavy metal cadmium, an endocrine disruptor linked to premature puberty, weight gain, breast abnormalities and breast cancer in women; prostate cancer in men; and decreased bone density and kidney damage in both sexes. Phosphate fertilizers and sewage sludge, used in conventional but not organic agriculture, are highly contaminated with cadmium.
As observed in “From Crop to Table: Pesticide Use in Produce” from Consumer Reports Food Safety & Sustainability Center, pesticides, including fumigants, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides, used in conventional but not organic produce, are intended to be toxic—to interfere with biological functions in living organisms. So should we be surprised when they’re linked with immune deficiency and various types of cancer, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological and cognitive problems, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, often at levels deemed “safe.” Many pesticides are endocrine disruptors linked to thyroid and reproductive issues including uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, and hormone-related cancers. Scientists are just beginning to discover problems with the herbicide glyphosate (aka Roundup), which may very well disrupt our all-important gut microflora.
Consumer Reports also notes that about 40 different pesticide ingredients currently on the market have been classified as known, probable, or possible human carcinogens. But that doesn’t mean that the other 860 pesticide ingredients also in use are safe.
Pesticides are particularly damaging to children, in whom pesticides have been linked to lower IQ, permanent changes in brain chemistry and neurodevelopment, behavior problems, ADHD, asthma, and cancer.
Last but not least, organic standards forbid genetic engineering.
Conventional agriculture not only adds significantly to our toxic loads, it burdens the planet as well, poisoning our air, water, earth, and wildlife. Choose organic whenever possible for yourself and your family, and for the planet we all share.
- Schardt D, Going organic: what’s the payoff? An interview with Charles Benbrook. Nutrition Action Newsletter, October 2012:3-7.
- Baranski M. Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Nutrition. September 2014;112(5):794-811.
- BH Staff. Is organics worth the price? Yes! October 17. 2014. Available at beyondhealth.com.
- Consumer Reports Food Safety & Sustainability Center. From Crop to Table: Pesticide Use in Produce. March 2015.
- Samsel A, Seneff S. Glyphosate’s suppression of cytochrome P450 enzymes and amino acid biosynthesis by the gut microbiome: Pathways to modern diseases. Entropy. April 2013;15:1416-1463.
- Consumer Reports. Eat the peach, not the pesticides. March 19, 2015.