Many people choose organic food in order to protect themselves and their families from exposure to pesticides. But choosing organic also means helping to create a healthier food system for everyone, from farm to table. Far too often, discussions about pesticides in the food system exclude the men, women, and children who plant, tend, and harvest our food.
The millions of farmworkers who are the backbone of our food system are routinely exposed to high levels of toxic pesticides in the fields where they work and in the communities where they live. They can be exposed at levels hundreds of times greater than consumers’ exposures to pesticides.
And because farmworkers and their families typically can’t afford to buy organic food, they suffer the added burden of being exposed to pesticides at work, in their environment, and from their diets. Removing pesticides from our food system will significantly improve the health of farmworkers and rural communities.
A new peer-reviewed study published in Environmental Research shows how much of a positive impact eating organic food can have on the body. It inspires us to ask—how do we create a food system where organic is for all?
Following four diverse American families before and after they went on an all-organic diet, researchers found that the levels of pesticides in people’s bodies decreased dramatically after just one week of consuming organic foods and beverages.
After one week on an organic diet, levels of detected pesticides dropped an average of 60 percent with a range of 37 to 95 percent, depending on the compound.
In the families that were studied, levels of chlorpyrifos, a widely used and highly neurotoxic pesticide, fell by 61 percent in one week. Government scientists have recommended banning chlorpyrifos because of its links to increased rates of autism, neurodevelopmental problems, and reduced IQ in children.
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