We all know that fruits and vegetables are healthy for our kids. They contain loads of vitamins and enzymes that are essential to development and we try to feed them as much fresh produce as we can convince them to eat. I’ve seen many a parent bargaining with their child to get that last bite of broccoli down. Parents have been diligently feeding their children what they thought was the “best thing for them” by encouraging veggies and fruits. Now, new light is being shed on an issue that is sure to upset the many parents who have been doing their best to feed their kids well, because those fresh veggies could be an underlying CAUSE of the rising rates of ADHD in our country. Yes, I said it. But not just me, the “big guys” are finally figuring it out, too. A segment on the Today Show aired recently that discusses the newly discovered link between pesticides that we are consuming and the rates of ADHD in our children.
Basically, there are pesticides sprayed or dusted on to fruits and vegetables for the purpose of destroying the insects that would otherwise decrease the yields of the plants and marr the beauty of the fruit. That pesticide works by disrupting the nervous system of the insects. When people eat these pesticides,even in small amounts, it can have similar effects on a less deadly, but still dangerous scale. Especially in small children, who are still developing. Their nervous systems are growing at such a fast rate that when these pesticides are consumed day after day, they can cause disruption in their neurological development and contribute to problems such as ADHD. The figures on the clip from the Today Show segment suggest that even a small amount of pesticide residue found in urine indicates up to a 55% higher chance of having ADHD. That is just too high of a number to ignore any longer! The question is no longer IF these chemicals are harming our kids, but WHAT to do about it. So, what can you do?
1. Eat ORGANIC. We eat 90% organic fruits and vegetables, but I plan to be even more diligent about this issue now that concrete proof is arising. Organic IS more expensive, but it is worth it. If you can’t find enough room in the budget for all organic produce , choose the ones that are likely to have the highest amounts of pesticide residue and purchase organic. Fruits and vegetables that are most important to buy organic include strawberries, blueberries, other berries, and anything that you consume the peel, or that is a root vegetable that soaks up the runoff of pesticides in the soil. Things like bananas are about the only fuit I don’t purchase organically very often because we peel them and because the organic stamp is unreliable when they are shipped from so far away.
2. READ the labels on the frozen items you buy. Organic is still the best choice, but sometimes you can fine frozen items that say “pesticide free” or something similar.
3. WASH your food before you eat it. A vinegar and water rinse will cut down some, but not all, of the pesticides on the produce.
4. EAT LOCALLY. You will know where your food has come from with certainty. You can talk directly to the farmer and ask any questions that you may have about the source and treatment of your food. Find a farmer’s market and get the bulk of your fresh items there. I really like Whole Foods because they carry locally procured food items. Eating locally provides a great variety of seasonal items as well. This will make it easier to eat in season and reduce the need for other chemical preservatives to be added to produce. If you want to eat strawberries in winter, learn how to freeze them or make jam yourself. It’s not hard .
5. PLANT A GARDEN. Even a small garden will lessen the level of pesticide you consume and the cost of organic purchases. Convenience is a huge contributor to the way we allow companies to determine what is ok for us to eat instead of taking responsibility for what we eat ourselves. Learning a few basic canning or freezing skills can be quite rewarding in the long run, and it’s not as hard as it sounds. Doing things the way grandma did could be good for us, and even makes great family time working together. Our kids love to help freeze applesauce and make jam.
I am so glad to see that the press is finally giving some attention to this issue. It is one that I feel strongly about, if you can’t tell. I have tried to be careful how I phrase my thoughts so as not to offend anyone, but this is a real issue and not just a trend. I know that there are things in life that are not preventable, and that eating organic will not solve every health issue. I am not a radical living in a commune and marching around the capital building with a sign. I can NOT sit here and say nothing any longer. This needs to be noticed, it needs to be heard, and maybe my voice will help.
You can watch a brief clip of the Today Show segment online HERE if you are interested.