by Katka Novakova, ND, MD (Europe)
Many of you have heard about the benefits of organic produce as a way to avoid toxic pesticides, herbicides and fungicides that are applied to food crops. You may even know which conventional fruits and vegetables carry the most toxic residues (peaches, apples, pears, winter squash, green beans, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, spinach and potatoes, to name a few). Although studies have shown that organic food contains 20-50% more nutrients than its non-organic counterpart, there are other, some would argue more important, reasons to choose organic.
One of those reasons, for example, is the irradiation of our food with very high doses of x-rays and gamma rays (equivalent to anywhere from 15 thousand to 1 million chest X-rays) in order to destroy microorganisms, delay ripening of fruits and vegetables, and to extend shelf life. While there have been no long-term studies done on humans to test this process, also called “cold pasteurization,” researchers at the University of Illinois, the Medical College of Virginia, San Diego State College, and even dog food company Ralston Purina found that animals fed irradiated foods had premature death, internal bleeding, cancer, reproductive and genetic problems, and nutritional deficiencies.
Another cause for concern is the genetic modification of foods. While many countries world-wide have banned the use of GMO foods, for more than 10 years the American public has been unwittingly consuming them because of the lack of mandatory labeling. GMO food is created when a new gene from a different species (such as viruses, bacteria, plants, animals and even humans) is added to the original food’s DNA. In order to transfer the new genetic material, scientists use a virus or bacteria as a vector, thus creating new organisms never before found in nature. There is a serious lack of studies to determine the potential danger in consuming genetically altered foods and an alarming amount of such foods are currently on the market. For instance, most corn, soy, canola, cotton, potatoes and rice has been genetically modified. Upon examining labels, you will notice that these GMO foods and their derivatives such as cottonseed oil, lecithin, soy protein, soy oil, soy sauce, tofu, high fructose corn syrup, food starch, bran, dextrose, maltodextrine, manitol, sorbitol and alcohol form the majority of many prepared and processed foods.
There are ways to protect yourself and your family from irradiated and genetically modified foods. Irradiated foods, for example, must have a special symbol on the label known as the radura (the picture shown to the left of the title of this article). Since GMO food, however, is still not subject to labeling by the USDA, the only way to be sure your food is safe from these processes is to buy organic produce from certified growers or local farmers that you trust. Either way, by buying organic, you are not only getting irradiation, GMO, pesticide, and herbicide-free produce, but you are also supporting organic farming/agriculture and the healthy ecosystem of our planet!
For more information visit organicconsumers.org or truefoodnow.org. I also recommend reading Eating in the Dark: America’s Experiment with Genetically Engineered Food by Kathleen Hart and Our Toxic World by Doris Rapp.