Infertility is at an all-time high in our society, with one in six couples having difficulty conceiving.

Thirty percent of fertility issues are classified as “unexplained” and a large percentage are considered hormonal issues. Many of these problems can be rectified with lifestyle and diet changes.

Last week, I talked about changes to our diet. This week we will focus on how our environment can cause difficulty with conception. This is called preconception care and many couples have had healthy babies through these types of efforts.

Couples need to be concerned about many environmental factors. Plastics contain BPA, a chemical which is a known endocrine disruptor. Our endocrine system is responsible for production and regulation of our hormones, and our hormones play an integral role in conception. Remove as many plastics from your life as possible, including food storage containers, plastic wrap and water bottles, to name a few.

Phthalates found in plastics, body care products and cosmetics also disrupt our hormonal system. In high levels, phthalates have been linked to miscarriage.

Women are at particular risk due to all of the body care products that we use — perfume, makeup, wet hair products, dry hair products, day cream, night cream, eye cream, hand cream, body lotion and all the other potions. Minimize all body care products and cosmetics and replace the ones you need with natural alternatives.

Heavy metals also are a concern, especially for men. Studies show that sperm are susceptible to damage from heavy metals. Removing sources of heavy metals is important for both men and women.

Start by filtering your water — not only your drinking water but also your bath water. A whole house filter is the best option but there are other options available.

It is also important to watch your intake of fish and seafood. Learn which fish has less chance of contamination. Generally, larger fish and farm-raised fish should be avoided.

Canned products can be a source of aluminum and BPAs. Avoid them whenever possible and buy frozen vegetables instead.

If you have amalgam fillings you may need to have them properly removed, as they are a dangerous source of mercury. Some people may need to detox some of the heavy metals from their system.

Pesticides should be avoided. In addition to many dangerous chemicals in pesticides, PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) chemicals are known to affect hormone function. This is why moms-to-be and dads-to be should be eating organic.

Chemicals found in cleaning products are a major concern. Not only do the products contain dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde, but many of them become airborne. We spray them and inhale them or they are present in steam from showers or dishwashers. All cleaners, including things like air fresheners and dryer sheets, should not be used. Make your own natural cleaners or purchase natural-based cleaners.

If you are struggling to have a child, consider making some changes to your environment. Removing toxins from your diet and environment can only benefit your health and in the process may be the help your body needs to conceive a healthy child.

Next week will focus on how vitamin and mineral deficiencies can affect fertility.

 

Originally published in The News Herald column Food for Thought by Theresa Edmunds.

Did you know that gluten is one of the most difficult substances for humans to digest? Gluten is the protein in wheat, rye and barley. From these grains, wheat is the predominate grain in our diet.

Wheat also is the grain that has been hybridized over the last 50 years. This hybridization caused the gluten content in wheat to increase. This is believed to be the main reason that many people are reacting to gluten today.

Reactions can be quite varied from digestive issues like diarrhea or constipation to headaches, arthritis, thyroid problems and even infertility. These can all be symptoms of gluten intolerance.

Behavioral issues also can be attributed to gluten sensitivity. ADHD, autism and bipolar disorder can be exacerbated by gluten. Many people find their symptoms of these issues are significantly reduced by eliminating gluten from their diet.

Celiac disease is the most serious form of gluten intolerance and is considered an autoimmune disease. The body sees gluten as a foreign substance and begins to makes antibodies against it. Celiac disease is considered a gateway autoimmune disease. Conditions such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, type 1 diabetes, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid disease all can be triggered by celiac disease.

The good news is that there are many ways to manage gluten intolerance. From learning about hidden sources of gluten to gluten-free alternatives, it is easier to live gluten free today than ever before. There is also evidence that suggests that a specific type of diet could even heal gluten issues.

These are the types of things that I will discuss in a four-week class about gluten beginning Wednesday at Monroe County Community College. Helpful resources and information will be supplied.

A second class on Wednesday will focus on allergies, autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

The three conditions are on the rise. Doesn’t it make you wonder why these problems that were virtually unheard of a generation ago are so prevalent today?

Food allergies have become so prevalent among children that it is not uncommon for each classroom to have several children with food sensitivities. Many children have multiple food sensitivities. This is usually a result of a compromised digestive system, which can be healed.

Seasonal allergies are no longer something that adults experience just in spring and fall. Many people, including babies, are experiencing “seasonal” allergies most of the year. Often this is also a result of a compromised digestive system and/or chemical sensitivities.

Years ago, autism affected 1 in 10,000 children; today it is estimated that 1 in 50 children are affected. There are many theories as to why autism is on the rise. The one obvious connection is that something is causing autism; it is no longer simply genetics. There are many different theories about possible causes and ways to lower the risk of autism. There are also several therapies, diets and doctors that can treat and even cure autism.

ADHD is a term that we didn’t even know 25 years ago. It started as ADD (attention-deficit disorder) but then the hyperactivity component was recognized. We then had ADD and ADHD. Now medical literature uses the term ADD with or without hyperactivity.

There are two schools of thought with ADHD. Many people are encouraged to put their child on Ritalin and some see improvements. Unfortunately, there haven’t been long-term studies of these types of medications.

There are alternatives to treating ADHD. Many functional medicine doctors are finding that deficiencies can play a role in behavioral and learning problems. We also know that many of these children can be sensitive to chemicals in our environment and our food. Some children also have a genetic component that can be managed effectively.

 

Originally published in The News Herald column Food for Thought by Theresa Edmunds.

“If our American way of life fails the child, it fails us all.” — Pearl S. Buck

Are our children any different than we were as kids? Are they doing the same things? Are they eating the same foods? Is the environment the same as it was 20 or 30 years ago?

We know that their health is different. When I was a kid I knew one girl with asthma and, looking back, one or two boys that today would probably be diagnosed with ADHD. No one had a peanut allergy or a milk allergy or was gluten intolerant. I never even heard the term autism until I was in my 20s.

There have been 80,000 new chemicals introduced in the last 20 years and most of them have never been tested for safety. These chemicals can be in our food, the air we breathe, the clothes we wear and the beds we sleep in. Today, more than 200 chemicals are being found in newborn babies’ umbilical cord blood samples.

Did you know most children’s pajamas are treated with flame retardant chemicals? And so are their mattresses?

Sixty years ago all the food we grew was organic because we hadn’t started using pesticides on our crops. None of our food was genetically modified.

When I was young, processed food was available but wasn’t an every meal staple. I remember that TV dinners seemed so cool, with all your food in separate compartments including dessert! I ate cereal for breakfast most days, but many of my friends were still eating a home-cooked breakfast. We packed a lunch because there wasn’t any choice until we got to high school. And everyone ate a home-cooked dinner.

Remember when McDonalds was a treat? Maybe once a month, if you were lucky? Remember what a small-sized pop looked like? Remember when water came from the tap, instead of a plastic bottle with BPAs?

Microwaves came out in the late 1960s. Most families had one by the ‘80s. I remember my mom said she didn’t think it was a good idea to heat our food up with radiation waves. She always was ahead of her time. Research is indicating that radiating our food may not be good for us after all.

We made popcorn in a pot or a popcorn maker with the little butter melting compartment that never seemed to work quite right. Our kids are microwaving their popcorn in bags that are coated with chemical non-stick coating.

How about “screen time” or “electronics” as we call them in our house? When we were kids we watched TV — all 12 channels when cable became available! We had some weekend morning cartoons and some after-school shows. Today’s children have more than 200 channels to choose from as well as on-demand shows. Not to mention pay-per-view movies and DVDs. That’s kids’ programming 24 hours a day!

What about video games? I remember when a friend got an Atari. Kids today have a choice of Wii, Playstation, iPods and cellphones. Screens have something called flash rates, which can have an effect on mood, behavior and hyperactivity. Ever notice how your child can become angry when it is time to stop playing and sometimes that mood will linger?

Whatever happened to playing outside? Today’s children are entering kindergarten without the gross motor skills that we had by age 5. Kids aren’t getting enough exercise, either, as witnessed by soaring childhood obesity numbers.

Have body care products changed? We didn’t use much — shampoo and soap and maybe some lotion. I remember the first time we bought “cream rinse,” now known as conditioner. It replaced the “No More Tears” detangler that my mom thought was the greatest invention ever.

There was no such thing as sunscreen in those days. Why weren’t we getting skin cancer? Think of all the products that line shelves today. They’re not made with natural products; they are full of chemicals.

How about the pace of life? Are we busier today? Absolutely. Multi-tasking wasn’t even a term until recently. We run ourselves ragged, driving our kids from one activity to another and grabbing some fast food on the way.

Has life changed? Yes, and our health along with it. The most apparent change is in the health of our kids. Allergies, asthma, autism, ADHD, diabetes and obesity are at all-time highs. Our children are trying to tell us something. Are we going to listen?

Join me for a workshop on children’s health from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Monroe County Community College. Learn how to have healthy babies, how to re-establish health in your child and how to give your child a lifetime of health.

 

Originally published in The News Herald column Food for Thought by Theresa Edmunds.

As spring arrives, our thoughts often turn to gardening and yard work. Along with thoughts about which trees and bushes need pruning and what type of flowers to plant come thoughts of a nice green lawn.

This is the perfect time to consider how our lawn care practices are affecting the environment. Often, we don’t realize the multi-faceted impact of our lawns.

One of the major concerns is the impact that herbicides have on animals and wildlife. Our own pets are being affected by these chemicals.

Studies show that lawn chemicals are being detected in dogs, even among dogs in residence where chemicals were not applied. These chemicals can spread to neighboring homes and can be detected more the 48 hours after application. Researchers believe these chemicals are linked to bladder cancer in dogs.

Dogs are not the only animals affected. Cats generally have a wider home territory than dogs and can expose themselves to a greater area. Our pets track these chemicals into our homes, which can affect our health and the health of our children.

Insects are also negatively affected. The effects on pollinators are especially concerning. Bees, specifically, are directly affected by these applications. Dandelions are integral to bees’ survival, as they are the most valuable early spring wildflower for bees.

If a bee hive survives the winter, the bees will be safe from starvation if they can stay alive until the dandelions bloom. Bees collect pollen and nectar from plants as their food source. They make honey from the nectar and pollen is their sole protein source, which they also use to make food for their young.

As you may have heard, our bees are in trouble. Researchers have been looking for answers to Colony Collapse Disorder for some time. Scientist are warning that exposure to chemicals is one of the reasons for declining bee populations.

This is a serious problem because bees do a lot more than just produce honey. It is estimated that honey bees pollinate approximately 15 billion dollars’ worth of American crops. Bees pollinate crops like apples, melons, broccoli and cranberries. Blueberries and cherries are 90% dependent on bees for pollination and almonds depend 100% on honey bees.

Bees also collect pollen from clover and plantain weeds. By waiting to cut our lawns until the flowers from these wild plants have bloomed, we can positively impact the local bee population.

The pesticides that are toxic to bees can remain for weeks after application. Not only is the bee that is exposed to the pesticide likely to die, but the whole hive (up to 60,000 bees) could also be killed. When the bee returns to the hive with toxic pollen which is then fed to the young, the entire hive is in danger.

Rather than using spray, employ organic gardening methods. Don’t worry about a few weeds in your lawn, they’re not going to hurt anyone. But that herbicide or pesticide that you may be using certainly could.

Did you know that many people react to chemical sprays, especially those with auto-immune issues? Many asthmatics also have bad reactions to lawn treatments. Others may feel ill, have an allergic-type reaction or unexplained rashes.

All of those chemicals wind up in our ground water, which contaminates well water and drinking water. Eventually they make their way, along with pesticides and fertilizers, to pollute our lakes and streams. The residues of these chemicals can be found in our tap water.

The overuse of synthetic fertilizers is contributing to serious contamination of our water supply as well as damaging our soil. It is important that homeowners and professional landscapers realize the impact these products are having on our health and environment.

Using herbicides on driveways, sidewalks and parking lots adds to the already high levels of these chemicals in our environment.

If you are determined to spray, look for sprays that are less toxic to bees and wait until evening when the bees are no longer foraging or even better, wait to spray until the flower has wilted.

Better yet, change your mindset about your lawn. Having a green lawn all summer uses up valuable water supplies — a luxury that we still have in the Great Lake State but one that won’t last forever, especially if we continue to pollute our fresh water supply.

Most Americans don’t have pristine lawns all summer long and that’s okay. It’s just a perception that we need to have unnaturally green grass. As long as our kids and pets have a soft place to play and run, does it really matter if there are some dandelions or some drier patches?

The quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the soil we grow our food in is so much more important than the way our lawn looks.

Try using organic practices and give the herbicides and fertilizers a break. Sit back and enjoy your dandelions, knowing that you are positively affecting not only your family’s health and the health of your neighbors but also the health of our planet.

 

Originally published in The News Herald column Food for Thought by Theresa Edmunds.

We spend weeks looking forward to our summer vacation, a time to relax and have fun. It is good for us to take a break from the everyday routine and, usually, it means less cooking and more eating out. 

This is great from time to time but there are ways to stay on track with healthy eating, even while travelling.

We should enjoy our vacation and eat foods that we like but often we wind up eating foods that we normally wouldn’t, due to convenience. With a little planning, we can eat foods that taste good and leave us and our family feeling good too.

Maybe you’ve noticed that while on vacation, children’s behavior sometimes deteriorates. Obviously, children get tired with so many activities and late nights, however, this is often a result of a change in diet and poor nutritional content.

Many kids are sensitive to dyes and preservatives, which are so prevalent in package, processed foods as well as fast food. Often, children have much more of this while travelling and also consume more sugar than normal.

In addition, most kids aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables on vacation. The lack of nutrition that this can cause can catch up with kids over the course of a few days.

Sometimes, this can be the cause of deteriorating behavior as the trip goes on.

There are many great options for eating fun and healthy while on vacation. With a little forethought, your next vacation can be healthier and less stressful!

When planning a road trip or going camping, pack a lunch for your first day on the road. This cuts down on one day of fast food. If you have a plug-in cooler for your car, pack the second day’s lunch.

Make some interesting sandwiches, try pretzel buns, sub buns or bagels to change up the routine. Cut-up veggies and fruit, nuts, granola bars, trail mix or cheese and crackers are all good options for snacks.

When you do have to eat on the road, look for healthier choices. Some restaurants are providing healthier offerings, like Panera Bread and Chipotle.

If you are a camper, you have a great opportunity to eat well if you forgo the typical hotdogs. Prepare some grass-fed beef hamburger patties and freeze them before you go.

Make a big pot of Sloppy Joes with the same grass-fed beef. Cook some organic chicken breasts to serve with a salad, or cut in strips and serve with veggies and dip.

If you are camping late in the season, a big pot of chili made at home can be a welcome addition on a cooler night around the campfire.

Cooking over an open fire can be a fun activity. Try salmon, whitefish or sausage with onions, potatoes, bell peppers and tomatoes to wrapped in parchment paper inside of aluminum foil and cook it up over the fire.

If you leave the potatoes out, you can make these at home. They can be cooked on a grill, as well.

The parchment paper keeps the vegetables from sticking and also protects your food from the aluminum foil. Foil can transfer aluminum to the food.

If you’re staying in a hotel, the free breakfast many hotels offer is convenient and saves money but, unfortunately, it is almost always fairly low quality.

Refined carbohydrates like cereal, bagels, muffins and waffles offer little in the way of nutritional value. Feel free to choose some of the offerings and add some of your own.

Bring a stick blender and make your own smoothies in the room. Take along a cooler with some frozen organic berries, add a banana and hemp seed hearts, nut butter or Greek yogurt for protein.

For lunch, look for a local deli or market that will make a carry-out lunch, which can make a nice picnic or beach lunch. Keep an eye out for restaurants that serve organic or local food. Farm-to-table restaurants are on the rise and can often be found in the unlikeliest of places. Ask the locals where they would recommend.

No matter what restaurant you are eating in, try to make salad and veggies part of the meal, even for the kids. If you order a pizza, order a salad to go along with it or stop at the grocery store and pick-up a vegetable and dip platter.

If you can offer the salad or veggies to kids before the pizza, chances are you’ll get more vegetables into them. Getting some nutrition into kids can make a big difference in their moods and behavior.

If you are renting a house or staying at a hotel with a kitchen, do your pre-trip research. Search for local Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and other regional markets that offer organic products. Make sure to have a grocery list ready before you get to the store and stock up for the week. Buy some of their pre-made food to get a headstart on cooking. If you do find yourself preparing more food, consider using paper plates to cut back on the clean-up.

With a little planning before you head out to enjoy your vacation, you can feed yourself and your family well. Making the extra effort just might make the next trip more fun and less stressful.

 

Originally published in The News Herald column Food for Thought by Theresa Edmunds.

The toxic load placed on humans begins early and often. Did you know that babies are born with more than 250 toxins found in the umbilical cord? That is a huge toxic load to be born with. No wonder we are seeing so many childhood disorders.

If you are planning to conceive, it is helpful to clean up your body and environment before conception. Consider a cleansing diet or a fast about nine months before you think about getting pregnant. Change the food you are eating to organic, look at your cleaning chemicals, food storage containers and cookware. Minimize your toxic load before you conceive and you will minimize your unborn child’s toxic load.

For those women who are having trouble conceiving, changing your diet and lifestyle can sometimes significantly influence fertility. Many women have had success conceiving and giving birth to healthy babies by understanding which nutrient dense food the body needs.

The goal of any expectant mother is always to have a healthy child. That is why doctors prescribe prenatal vitamins. But good health for your baby actually begins before you conceive.

Did you know that you can significantly influence the health of your child if you change your diet six months before you conceive? Giving your body the correct nutrients and rebalancing your body before you begin to nourish a baby can make a big difference in the health of your baby. It can avoid all kinds of childhood illnesses and can even influence things like facial bone structure and crowded teeth.

A significant but little understood issue in children’s health is digestive system health. A baby in utero has a sterile digestive system, in other words, no good or bad flora in their digestive tract. The first good bacteria the baby is exposed to is through the birth canal where they take on the flora of their mother, which is good if the mother has a healthy balance of good to bad bacteria: 85 percent good to 15 percent bad is a good ratio.

Unfortunately, most of us today have the inverse; 85 percent bad to 15 percent good. This is due mostly to our modern diet too heavy in sugar and refined grains with little to no fermented foods. Fermented foods that contain probiotics (good bacteria) help to feed the good flora. Sugar and refined grains feed the bad bacteria.

How about babies that are born by cesarean section? What is the first bacteria they are exposed to? All the bacteria in the delivery room. Not good. In fact, doctors can determine if a 10-year-old was born by cesarean section based on their digestive system flora.

In the early part of our life the ecology of our digestive system is created. Antibiotics disrupt this delicate balance and can be very detrimental in early childhood. Research indicates that antibiotics given in early childhood can change the ecology of the child’s gut for life. This doesn’t mean that antibiotics should never be used, it means that they should only be used when absolutely necessary and in conjunction with support for the gut through probiotics.

Why is the balance of bacteria so important? The digestive system affects every system, cell and organ of the body. The digestive system’s job is to provide nutrients, through food, to every cell in the body. We know that the balance of gut bacteria influences digestive health; diarrhea and constipation are indicators that the flora is not balanced. The gut also affects brain function, regulates our moods and behavior and can contribute to learning disabilities, anxiety and depression. It is also linked to autoimmune disease, heart disease and cancer.

It is helpful for the mother and father to rebalance their digestive system flora before conceiving, but if that has not been the case, there are options to help your baby have a healthier balance. Breast feeding is the best thing for babies, even if mom’s flora is out of balance. Supplementing with a baby probiotic can help and making wise choices for baby’s first foods is very important.Once upon a time, baby food was prepared naturally by the mother, grandmother and family members. Food consisted of fresh meat, good fats and vegetables cooked and mashed with broths or gravies and then served to the baby. Homemade broths were always a mainstay of an infant’s diet, very nutritious, easily digested and very healing for the gut. In America, that diet has been replaced with high sugar juices, grains, cereals, processed foods and processed dairy products.

There is so much we can do to ensure the health of our babies. Unfortunately, most of us don’t realize how much influence we have over this. We take our prenatal vitamins and hope for nine months that our babies will be healthy.

What we need to understand is that we can start to influence the health of our babies nine months before we conceive. We also need to know that it is never too late to start feed our babies the right foods to make them healthy. That’s something we can all do, even if our babies aren’t babies anymore.

 

Originally published in The News Herald column Food for Thought by Theresa Edmunds.

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are common in the population today. The original purpose of food is to give our body all of the nutrients it needs. As our food supply has changed through growing practices that cause soil to become depleted, our food does not always contain the vitamins and minerals it should.

In addition, the Standard American Diet is also taking a huge toll on our health. When real food is supposed to be the source of our vitamins and minerals, it is no wonder we are seeing such an increase in fertility issues. These deficiencies aren’t just a concern for women, they affect men, too.

Folic acid and B12 deficiencies are linked with miscarriage and are important to fertility. However, there is a genetic condition referred to as MTHFR in which the body does not properly utilize folic acid and B12. People with MTHFR should not take folic acid; they need it in the form of folate. Another effect of MTHFR can be miscarriage. If you have not been able to carry to term, you may want to find a doctor who understands this condition and can help you understand and manage it.

All of the B vitamins are very important for fertility and healthy babies. Zinc is used to utilize reproductive hormones. Selenium is important to prevent chromosome breakage and sperm formation. In one study, men participating in IVF (in-vitro fertilization) were given vitamin E and fertility rates increased from 19 to 29 percent. Studies show that vitamin C can increase sperm quality, protect DNA in sperm from damage and improve sperm motility. Vitamin D deficiencies are being linked to fertility problems in both men and women.

The amino acid L-arginine has increased fertility in some men; however, if a man is susceptible to cold sores, he should not take this as it will stimulate the virus responsible for outbreaks. L-carnitine, another amino acid, is found to benefit both men and women.

Omega 3 essential fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil, can regulate hormone function and control inflammation. However, some women take Evening Primrose oil or Borage oil, which are Omega 6s. Over time Omega 6s can disrupt the hormonal balance. Omega 6s naturally occur in soybean oil and other vegetable oils, which are present in almost every packaged food. This is another reason to forego processed, convenience and fast food.

Some herbal supplements have shown promise. Agnus Castus can rebalance hormones and increase fertility. In one study, within three months, 7 percent of women experiencing infertility became pregnant and 50 percent had progesterone levels return to normal. However, it is not recommended to take this if you are taking fertility drugs, oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy or any other medication, without a doctor’s approval.

As with all supplements, it is important to buy a very good quality brand. Cheaper vitamins and minerals are full of fillers and may not have been processed to preserve their potency. Many less expensive supplements are also synthetic or manmade. Our bodies do not know what to do with these supplements. We are made to consume natural products. With supplements, you definitely get what you pay for. Before starting a supplement program it is recommended that you find a health care professional that can give you some guidance.

Many people turn to in-vitro fertilization as a means to have a baby. Studies show that IVF has an approximate success rate of 25 percent while preconception care shows a success rate of 47 percent. IVF does not address the underlying cause of infertility, whereas preconception care can often correct the issues causing infertility. Incidentally, research indicates that in-vitro fertilization can be more successful if you make these types of lifestyle changes.

By considering supplements that your body may need, as well as consuming a nutritious pre-conception diet and removing toxins from your environment, you may be able to give your body the opportunity to conceive a healthy child.

I will be teaching natural living classes Wednesdays from September through November at Monroe County Community College.

Classes about allergies, ADHD and autism and a four-week series on Gluten-Intolerance begin Sept. 11. Other topics will include principles from children and women’s health to boosting the immune system and protecting against cancer. Visit monroeccc.edu/ccs/lifelong.htm to register or get more information.

 

Originally published in The News Herald column Food for Thought by Theresa Edmunds.

Is buying organic really that important? It’s a question a lot of people ask me. The answer is a resounding “yes.”

What many people don’t realize is that everything used to be organic. Until about 60 years ago, all food was organic. That’s right, pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizer and hormones didn’t exist a generation ago. Humans were eating food in its natural form. If that isn’t enough reason to buy organic here are 10 more.

Reduce your toxic load. Toxins like the chemicals found in pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizer as well as antibiotics are being found in the human body. While you may not be able to control toxins entering your body from certain types of pollution, you can certainly control what you eat. By choosing to consume organic food you lighten the load on your body and give it an opportunity to detox the chemicals you can’t control.

Protect your kids. Research shows that children are four times more susceptible to these chemicals. The “safety” testing of these chemicals was based on adult tolerance levels, not on children’s. Their bodies are still developing, physically and mentally. The brain can be affected by these toxins, according to the National Academy of Science “neurological and behavioral effects may result from low-level exposure to pesticides.” These chemicals are also known to impact the nervous system. The endocrine system, which is our master hormone system, has been shown to be adversely affected by pesticides including decreasing fertility.

Protecting each other. The “pesticide drifts” from farming are carried on the wind, wafting into a multitude of local communities, affecting air quality and causing these toxic chemicals, not only to be ingested but also inhaled. This affects the workers on these conventional farms, too.

Preserving the nutrient value of our food. Mono-culture farming, which is the practice of growing only one massive crop, has depleted our soil of many necessary nutrients. Synthetic fertilizers has also damaged the micronutrients, minerals and organisms in our soil. This depletion has led to many of the mineral deficiencies we are seeing today.

Be a part of the change. The movement back to real food is growing. In 1994 there were approximately 3,000 certified organic farms, compared to 10,000 in 2006. However, as a percentage of the two million farms in America, organic is still a small percentage. Only by supporting organic farming will we see it continue to grow and thrive and to see pricing come down.

Support small business. Many organic farms or farms based on organic principles but not certified are independently owned and operated. These farms operate in biodynamic harmony with nature and provide for the local economy. As farm co-ops, Community Supported Agriculture and farmers’ markets gain popularity, it gives everyone a chance to support local organic farmers. In these days of giant corporations and their giant profits, local independent farmers need our support.

Eat real food. Much of what we are eating today should not be considered food. Between GMOs, hormones, pesticides, antibiotics, fertilizers and herbicides found in whole foods and dyes, flavorings and preservatives in processed foods, much of our food is created in a lab. These technologies have not been properly researched and research that indicates concerns has been discounted. Buying organic means that you are buying food free from these laboratory created compounds.

Understand the global food scene. Many of these chemicals and technologies have been banned in other countries. Corporate America is so powerful and far reaching that it, more often than not, dictates the regulations and policies passed by the government. Want a broader view? Look at what other countries allow into their food supply.

Chronic diseases are linked to these foods. Cancer, diabetes, heart disease, autism and ADHD have continued to increase with our greater consumption of chemically treated, laboratory engineered and processed foods.

Our environment. With only .5 percent of the farmland in this country designated as organic that means 99.5 percent has been exposed to herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, fertilizer, not to mention other chemicals used in the farming process. These chemicals infiltrate our soil, air and water supply. Runoff from fertilizers is causing dead zones in our oceans. The Gulf of Mexico has a dead zone that was reported in 2002 to be 22,000 square kilometers — an area larger than New Jersey.

 

Originally published in The News Herald column Food for Thought by Theresa Edmunds.