Are Pesticides Lurking in Your Food?

All right, kids, it's time for your wake-up call of the week. You know all those pesticides that we spray on our lawns to make them look like suburban Gardens of Eden, and on our crops to keep the bugs away? Where do you think they ultimately end up? Let's see: They accumulate in the soil, leach into groundwater, linger on the grass our kids run on in their bare feet, and hang out on the foods we eat. In other words, they end up in our bodies.

Considering that those chemicals were invented to, you know, kill things, what kind of effect do you think they're having on us? This is territory that researchers have only recently begun to explore. And they're turning up some disturbing connections: A recent large-scale National Institutes of Health epidemiological study found a dramatically increased risk of diabetes among farmers who routinely applied one of seven common pesticides to their crops. Research that has examined a broader group of chemicals called persistent organic pollutants (POPs) — including many pesticides, as well as the by-products of pesticide manufacture — has linked them to insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. (Another cause for alarm: The word "persistent" refers to the fact that these chemicals stick around in the environment and in the food chain long after their use. Although many POPs have been banned in most parts of the world, they still turn up in people's bodies years later.)

It'll take more research to tease out the all the effects of pesticides on human health, but one thing seems clear: They are not good for our metabolisms. We've endured a toxic onslaught for years without knowing what it's doing to our bodies. It's getting clearer by the day that we must start paying very close attention to where our food comes from. I am not being alarmist when I say that what we eat could have lifelong ramifications for our health, hormones, and metabolism. Buy organic to avoid pesticides in your foods, and keep those nasty chemicals off your lawn!

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