In case you missed it, yesterday's headlines reported a study linking pesticide intake and ADHD in children. Unfortunately, reports focused on foods most people associate with pesticides: fruit and vegetables. While recommending organic fruit and vegetables is great, the truth is that most pesticides, including the organophophate pesticides specifically researched in the study, are found at high levels in milk and meat.
Through a process called biomagnification toxins such as pesticides concentrate at higher levels as they go up the food chain. Biomagnification is illustrated by a study of the pesticide DDT. One study found when DDT soil levels were 10 parts per million (ppm), earthworms in the soil had a DDT concentration of 141 ppm, and robins eating earthworms had DDT levels of 444 ppm (Pesticides, People and the Environment, Science Scope, 2005).
This is true for the fish and livestock we consume. Due to pesticide run-off in water and air, or pesticides sprayed directly on animals in feedlots, they are found animal tissue. And because commercially raised livestock consume grain contaminated with organophosphate pesticides, we can expect to find them in the milk and meat of the animals. This is also true for fish, since mercury and pesticides concentrate as they move up the food chain.
Last month, ABC news ran a report entitled "Weak Regulation Means Tainted Beef on U.S. Plates, USDA Report Urges Greater Government Effort to Limit Contaminants in Meat" which began: "The government is doing too little to ensure that the beef Americans eat is uncontaminated by 'residual veterinary drugs, pesticides and heavy metals,' according to an audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's inspector general." To read the whole article, click here.
So know that pesticides are not primarily found in fruit and vegetables, even though that is the common belief. By eating less meat and dairy, we are eliminating high levels of pesticides and other toxic substances from our diet.