What substances do we avoid by eating organic food?

Over 3,000 high-risk toxins routinely present in the U.S. food supply are, by law, excluded from organic food, including:

  • Pesticides: By far the largest groups of toxins to be largely prohibited from organically grown foods are synthetic pesticides, which are found virtually everywhere else in the food supply. Several hundred different chemicals and several thousand brand-name pesticide products are legally used in commercial food production in the U.S. Act of 1992; the Environmental Protection Agency had classified 73 pesticides authorized for agricultural use as potential carcinogens (cancer-causing agents). And pesticides don’t just remain where they are applied. A 1996 study by the Environmental Working Group found 96% of all water samples taken from 748 towns across the U.S. contained the pesticide atrazine, and at least 20 different chemical pesticides are routinely present in municipal tap water across the U.S.
  • Heavy metals: The toxic metals cadmium, lead, and mercury enter the food supply through industrial pollution of soil and groundwater and through machinery used in food processing and packaging. Cadmium, which can be concentrated in plant tissues at levels higher than those in soils, has been linked to lung, prostate and testicular cancers. Despite lead’s long-recognized serious adverse impact on health, especially that of young children, lead solder is still used to seal tin cans, imparting the lead residues found in many canned foods. Even low levels of lead are harmful and are associated with decreased intelligence, impaired neurobehavioral development, decreased stature and growth, and impaired hearing. Mercury is toxic to brain cells and has been linked to autism and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Solvents: Used to dissolve food components and produce food additives, solvents are also virtually omnipresent in commercially processed food. Solvents, such as benzene and toluene have been linked to numerous cancers. Benzene, specifically, has been repeatedly associated with rheumatoid arthritis – an auto-immune condition involving pain and degeneration in the joints that affects over 2 million adults in the U.S.

Not only are these toxic substances harmful singly, but when combined, as they are in commercially grown and processed food, and in the human body where they accumulate, their effects have been found to be magnified as much as a 1000-fold.

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