by Rob Werner
A pesticide, RoundUp, was linked as a cancer-causing agent. That same pesticide frequently permeates the food we consume. Fans of oats and other whole grains were shocked to learn that these healthy foods may contain significant amounts of the poison we use to kill weeds. Buying organic is supposed to, and generally does, eliminate the exposure to pesticides.
There are many otherwise healthy foods that expose us to the harmful agents in chemicals. The foods get contaminated not only by this, but by exposure to polluted air and water.
You may remember the saying, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.” Today apples are one of the most contaminated produce items. Many people from Asia peel their apples before consumption. Organically, the peels may be the healthiest part, but for non-organic food they may be right.
Other non-organic produce that suffer from many contaminants include, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, grapes, leafy greens, celery, cucumbers, blueberries, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. Even peanuts are contaminated.
Some non-produce contaminated food includes meats, fish, fowl and dairy products. It is said that “We are what we eat;” this is also true of animals, and we consume many animal products. Animals ingesting hormones, antibiotics and poisons can transfer those same agents to us in the food we eat. Grass-fed animals are not immune from the contamination. If the water or air is polluted, they can pass on the agents they absorbed into our foods.
Fish is generally considered a healthy food, but much of the fish is farmed in unhealthy conditions. Eating restaurant foods such as salmon or tilapia generally means eating farmed foods subject to numerous contaminants. It is said that Chinese tilapia is raised on defecation. Beware of other bottom feeders such as basa and swai.
Eating organic food with the U.S.D.A. seal provides some protection. Such food is not to be raised, processed or handled in an environment utilizing pesticides or hormones and cannot be treated with synthetic pesticides, sewage sludge, bioengineering or radiation. The requirements don’t extend to heavy metal and other environmental pollutions.
Foreign producers obtain U.S. organic certification based on supposedly meeting the U.S. standards and passing inspection. This is a serious issue as most of our “organic” food is imported. The largest importer is China. The department determining what producers are organic is led by former executives of major producers. The certification process of foreign organic production is not tough; and worse, there are many false certifications.
Producers in such countries as China have a reputation for not caring for the environment and making false claims to boost sales. Even food produced at a certified Chinese organic facility may be raised on water from polluted rivers and grown in an area where air filtration devices are needed to stay healthy.
The FDA only inspects about 3% of imported food. If they inspect a ship importing tilapia, the odds are it will not pass inspection. The importer may get around this problem by transporting the contaminated product to another port.
If you don’t drink the water in Mexico because of Montezuma’s Revenge, then you might be concerned about consuming organic watermelon or tomatoes grown in the same water. If imported food comes from a country where animals and produce are watered from streams that are so polluted that water cannot be consumed and the air is so rank that air filtration devices are needed, stay away from the food even if it is labeled “organic.”