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Pesticide Pessimism & Organic Optimism

Today, even the most wholesome-seeming of aisles in the grocery store can leave the everyday shopper perplexed. Labels claiming “organic-this” and “natural-that” take an ordinary produce section and turn it into an overwhelming maze of health uncertainties. According to the USDA’s website, “ Produce can be called organic if it’s certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest. Prohibited substances include most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.” Part of navigating nutritional choices involves understanding what these pesticides are and how they impact human health.

 

Beginning in the 1940s the world was transformed by the “Green Revolution,” which used new agricultural technologies to produce high-yield, disease-resistant varieties of wheat. Although these revolutionary crops helped feed the growing population worldwide, a major reason for their success was the mass use of fertilizer and pesticides, which are still widely used today. Although the term ‘pesticide’ might sound a bit worrisome, many people do not see a clear connection between these chemicals and their impact on our health. Accentuating this detachment, popular herbicides such as RoundUp claim to be “environmentally friendly” since they are nontoxic to mammals, birds, fish, and insects in small doses. So if trace amounts of pesticides appear to be harmless, why should we care?

 

Pesticides used on our crops today consist of a chemical compound called glyphosate. Glyphosate is used in herbicides to kill off weeds and allow crops to grow successfully. This compound exterminates weeds by blocking protein production through the shikimic acid pathway, a specific enzyme pathway in plants.  Without these important proteins, weed growth is stunted and crops are able to thrive. So far all of this information relates to plants, but here’s the catch: these pesticides are mitigating our ability to produce crucial proteins which in turn makes us more vulnerable to all kinds of diseases. The human body consists of over 200,000 proteins made up of 26 amino acids, 9 of which are essential to the production of almost all other proteins. These exclusive 9 aminos cannot be made by our bodies and must come from the food we eat; they can only be produced by the bacteria and fungi of plants. AKA the same bacteria and fungi that herbicides destroy.

 

Though we have painted a grim picture of our current agricultural system, a healthier tomorrow remains possible. Luckily, varieties of helpful bacteria and fungi absorb glyphosate. In order to allow these natural chemical consumers to return to the soil, we need to minimize pesticide treatment. In the meantime, we can turn to organic crops to lessen the concentration of pesticides we consume. While shopping for fruits and veggies, a helpful reference is the Environmental Working Group’s list of produce items that contain the most pesticide residue, which can be found at https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list.php#.WqRm8MaZORs.

 

Also in the quest to rebuild the balance of proteins in our system, look no further than aha’s very own LUCKY BONES! This soup is made with Bragg’s non-GMO, chemical-free amino acids. Bragg’s contains the essential plant-based aminos that are currently being robbed from our proteins by glyphosate. Try adding chopped organic vegetables and pasta or using this soup to cook your grains, and take your health back into your own hands. All of our soups are made with organic ingredients and are a scrumptious and nourishing way to fight back against dangerous agricultural chemicals.

So next time you are bombarded with supermarket jargon, you are now equipped with your #ahahealthmoment to successfully maneuver the produce maze!

 

With Pure Intentions,

Abby Jenkins 

 

Sources:

 

https://www.thoughtco.com/green-revolution-overview-1434948

http://www.richroll.com/podcast/zach-bush-353/

https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list.php#.WqRm8MaZORs

https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2012/03/22/organic-101-what-usda-organic-label-means

https://www.biology.iupui.edu/biocourses/N100/goodfor13.html

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