No, it's some cheezy movie line or spreading fake news and fear. It's true. There are pesticides actually in our fruits and vegetables. It's a part of them. These pesticides are called "systemic" pesticides. They're applied on the soil or on the leaves of plants, and is then absorbed into the plant, its leaves, and the fruits.
The pesticides are meant to kill any bugs that eat the plants, leaves, or fruits. It stops infestations from growing and keeps crop yields at a higher volume. The problem is that they also kill beneficial insects like honeybees, earthworms, and ladybugs. All of these insects help our ecosystems flourish through pollination, land aeration, fertilization, and natural pest control. It's so bad that water droplets touching the treated leaves end up testing positive for pesticides. And worst of all, these pesticides don't just wash off. We end up eating them!
The four major systemic pesticides are:
Basically, systemic pesticides are nearly everywhere in conventional (non-organic) fruits and vegetables. Now I'm sure not all growers will use these pesticides, but how can we, as consumers, tell? It's not like there are signs listing out what was used and when it was last used. Plus, there are plenty of studies linking pesticides and exposure to pesticides to chronic diseases like cancer, Parkinson's, asthma, and birth defects. There are studies linking hormonal damage as well. In fact, children and pregnant women are the most at risk. A child or fetus is not fully developed yet and is more susceptible to the toxic effects of pesticides. The weight to dosage ratio is another factor. This is a whole other topic we can discuss. The list is long.
OK, fine. It's in our foods and it's bad. What now?
Eat organic. Organic farms and orchards are tested for pesticides and herbicide levels. They practice sustainable farming techniques that promote a healthy ecosystems. Birds are chirping, bees are buzzing, and earthworms are burrowing in the dirt. These are common on an organic farm and these things are signs that there are no pesticides around to kill nature.
Organic foods are not perfect though. Organic farmers can use pesticides too. Luckily, almost all of the pesticides that organic farmers use are natural in origin and already exist in our environment. Conventional farmers have access to over 900 different man-made synthetic pesticides. Pesticides and herbicides are a multi-billion dollar industry that's not going down without a fight. Organic farming has access to 25 synthetic pesticides too, but how, where, and when these are used is strictly regulated.
It's not hopeless! Organic foods are still the way to go if you don't want to eat pesticides but you should also ALWAYS wash your produce. And, there are a few ways that have been scientifically proven to remove most, if not all, pesticides.
I guess the next question is "where do all these pesticides go when we wash them off"? I don't know but I really hope it doesn't just end up in our oceans only to harm that ecosystem. Does it just go away over time or does it just linger on our earth until it kills? I hope someone out there is studying all this. In the meantime, go organic. Save you health, spare the earth. We only got one of each. =)
More good stuff out there:
California grows a vast majority of the fruits and vegetables we consume in the United States. Some stats put California at growing as much as 80% of all produce! And though we usually see most fruits and vegetables available at the market year round, it doesn't mean they are at their freshest or at their peak nutritional content. Some produce does get shipped in from other countries located in a different hemisphere, but other produce can sometimes be stored in freezers to be sold at markets later.
Studies have shown that the when we pick fruits and vegetables and the time between harvesting to eating can effect the fruit and vegetables' nutritional content. For example, tomatoes prematurely picked before ripening are found to have less vitamin C than tomatoes picked at peak ripeness. Also, fruits and vegetables start to lose their nutritional content as soon as they are picked. Natural processes and compounds like respiration and enzymes start breaking down our produce and releasing nutrients quickly. Some fruits and vegetables decay sooner than others but the process happens to all of them. We can tell when our produce starts to change in color, texture, and taste.
Nutritionists will suggest for you to get your produce locally and while it's in season. The less time it has to travel from farm to table, the better. It's going to have more of its nutrients in tact. Plus, get your fruits and veggies when they're in season! Below is a quick cheatsheet for different fruit and vegetable seasons. The actual harvest and availability dates change about a week or two from year to year but the general seasons usually stay consistent. If you're ever unsure, check with a grower at your local farmers market or a produce expert at your local supermarket. And again, some produce have overlapping seasons or simply last longer after harvest, so don't be surprised to see some produce show up in more than one season. Another huge benefit of eating fruits and vegetables in season is that your kitchen's menu keeps changing and gets more creative. There can be a new group of veggies and fruits featured each month. Cheers to your health!
Please keep in mind that this list is not 100% complete. It's just a few common fruits and vegetables to keep in mind.
Here's more to read and a few more cheatsheets:
Organic farming is supposed to be better for our soil, for our Earth. It doesn't allow the use of manufactured chemical herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, and GMOs. To help grow a healthy crop and produce a strong harvest, organic farmers turn to environmentally friendly farming techniques. Cover crops are one of those techniques.
Cover crops are plants that farmers grow to cover the soil instead of harvesting them. Farmers would grow these crops between seasons or harvests, and basically let them die before planting a new cash crop, one that they will harvest and sell. It sounds a bit odd that farmers would plant something to let it die but cover crops bring a wealth of benefits, which include soil erosion, soil fertility and quality, water management, weed and disease management, and pest management.
One of the main reasons for cover crops is to prevent soil erosion. Rain and water runoff are actually problems that can make some big problems to farmland. Cover crops can slow down rain drops from hitting the surface and their roots can act as anchors to keep the soil in place.
Another massive advantage of cover crops is their ability to increase soil fertility and quality. Cover crops maintain and manage much of the macro and micro nutrients in the soil. They soak up nitrogen, a key element for growing good harvests, and replace it back into the soil when they die. Otherwise, the nitrogen leaves the soil through water runoffs or in a gaseous state. The retention of nitrogen in the soil is huge because farmers don't need to use chemical nitrogen fertilizers, which are can throw off ecosystems and kill wildlife. Cover crops also improve the soil quality by increasing the biomass found in the soil. Biomass helps the soil retain more water and nutrients, which naturally grow larger and healthier crops.
Water management is another benefit of cover crops. The cover crops grow roots that can reach deep into the soil. These roots act as pathways for rainfall and water to really get into the ground instead of just running off the surface. The cover crops themselves also hold a lot of water. Once they are killed off, they can be added back into the soil to increase the soil's moisture content.
Cover crops help with weed and disease management. A dense layer of cover crops not only prevents sunlight from reaching weed seeds so they can't germinate and grow, but it also fights weeds for water and nutrients. Some cover crops prevent weeds from growing through allelopathy as well. Allelopathy is when certain biochemical cover crop compounds degrade and become toxic to or prevent seed germination of other plant species. Allelopathy can also help reduce bacterial and fungal diseases that damage cash crops.
Perhaps a more interesting use of cover crops is that they can assist with pest management. Certain cover crops can attract pests away from cash crops because they are a preferred source of food. Growers can then eliminate these pests when enough them are attracted to these "trap" type cover crops. Another way cover crops help with pest control is that some of them provide natural habitats for predators that prey on pests. Both are natural ways organic farmers can help reduce pests without using harmful chemicals and pesticides.
Overall, cover crops improve the farm habitat for wildlife. They provide a balance in the ecosystem without the use of chemicals to increase nutrients in the soil or to kill pests and weeds. Natural wildlife like birds start to come back and earthworms can be found aerating and providing nutrients to the soil. Cover crops are healthier for the Earth and healthier for us humans. And, I guess it all makes sense. If herbicides and pesticides are meant to kill, then how could they ever be good for growth in the long run? Plant more life to provide more life.
Here are more interesting articles to read:
Pesticides and herbicides are serious chemicals that can damage our bodies and destroy our health. They are difficult to wash off our fruits and vegetables, and are unavoidable in our other foods like eggs, milk, or grains. We end up ingesting all of these chemicals. And though it's only in trace amounts each time, the total amount can build up over time and start to cause some serious chronic health issues.
Just think about it for a second. This is bad for everyone and anyone. It's bad for our seniors who may already have health problems. It's going to get worse for adults if they've been eating it their whole adult lives and then age into the senior population. And of course, children have it the worst. Their brains and immune systems are still developing. They haven't built up any internal defenses or tolerance against such powerful toxins. Plus, they can be ingesting and accumulating these toxins in their bodies their whole life!
These health problems caused by pesticides are real. They disrupt our hormones and alter the natural balance in our bodies. These chemicals are known to kill birds and insects, even in small doses. They have been linked to damaging the brain/central nervous system as well as causing breast, colon, lung, ovarian cancers, just to name a few. There are also studies that have linked pesticides and daily exposure to lower a child's IQ score compared to those of their peers who do not suffer daily pesticide exposure.
This stuff gets into everything and everywhere, and it's bad. It gets on our food surfaces, in the ground, and in the atmosphere. Trees soak it up and animals get it from what they eat. It's just as bad as the micro-plastics you might have read about! In fact, there was one study showing that seals and Eskimos, who were far from any area of pesticide use, still show pesticide levels in their fat tissues because of the atmosphere and the foods they ate (migrating fish, etc). There's even evidence showing that human milk may be the most contaminated milk of all mammals!
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There's so much more information to share. The pesticides and herbicides being used today are way more potent than the ones we started with post-WWII. There's a whole lot more of them now too. Even RoundUp, which we can buy in almost any home gardening store, has been linked to causing cancer.
We're not trying to incite a riot or claim the sky is falling, but we are trying to help people make more informed decisions. We can't stop the manufacturing or use of pesticides today nor can we clean all the pesticides from our air. However, we can start to make a change today. I'm sure you all know but each time we buy food at the grocery, online, or at our farmer's market, we are voting. We can choose what types of veggies and fruits we want, what snacks and meats they should offer. We can also choose if we prefer organic or conventional (non-organic). Organic is usually a little pricier today but the more we choose organic today, the lower the costs will be in the future. Besides, we might only get one shot at this thing called life. Let's not mess it up.
More Good Reads:
By now, most of us consumers have heard about organic. (I'm sure there's a surprising number of people in the world who don't know about organic foods but that's a different topic for next time.) Choosing organic is supposed to be the "healthier" choice, but why and what does that all really mean? What else are organic foods and farming good for?
As it turns out, choosing organic is actually a pretty big decision. Organic foods and organic farming have positive impacts on our bodies and our environment. It all really comes down to prohibiting the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and growth-hormones in organic farming.
The synthetic pesticides and herbicides used in conventional (non-organic) farming have been scientifically linked to numerous health issues and diseases. The list is long and includes lymphoma, leukemia, obesity, autoimmune deficiency, kidney disease, breast cancer, and some birth defects, to name a few. These chemicals are not so easy to wash off and tend to leave a residue. In the end, we end up consuming a bit each time and the amount builds up. These chemicals were created to kill insects and unwanted vegetation, basically life. Why would we ever want to eat that?
These chemicals can get deep beneath the surface. Our conventional crops absorb these chemicals and our conventional livestock ingest it. Once these pesticides and herbicides are used, it gets into the soil and foliage, and the crops that we consume absorb all the harmful chemicals when they pull water and nutrients from the soil. The same goes for our livestock. If we raise them on foods grown with chemicals and GMOs, they will retain some of the chemicals they ingest. And in the end, these chemicals will be passed onto us.
Pesticides and herbicides in the soil are another huge issue. They hurt our environment. They contaminate our drinking water because the surface water run-offs from conventional farms can end up in our lakes and reservoirs. Pesticides kill off natural pollinators like bees and herbicides leave the land barren, which causes soil erosion.
In addition, organic farming techniques are good for the environment. Cover crops, conservation tillage, crop rotation, and other sustainable farming techniques help keep the soil healthy and maintain biodiversity. They return critical nutrients, organic components, and much needed nitrogen to keep the soil quality high and healthy. Organic farming also leaves a much smaller carbon footprint than conventional farming by using far fewer fossil fuels.
There's much more harm in conventional farming than you would think. Conventional farming also allows the use of sewage sludge, treated waste that we've flushed down our toilets. Gross, right? Plus, studies have linked the use of antibiotics to treat livestock can cause a decrease of healthy probiotics in our digestive systems. The bigger question to ask is, "Why does the FDA and USDA allow for all these harmful chemicals and practices to be used with our foods?"
The price of organic foods is decreasing too. As more people become aware of organic foods' positive benefits, more people have been purchasing organic. Each time we buy organic, we are voting. It's our way of telling the farming community what we really want them to grow and how we prefer them to grow it. And as more farmers transition to organic, the prices will start to come down.
To be fair, organic farming is not perfect. It's still very important to read all the labels and know about the food you are eating. Some organic foods have unnecessary and harmful non-organic additives that have been linked to causing malignant tumors, vitamin E deficiencies, and shortened lifespans. But overall, it seems clear to us that choosing organic is much better than not choosing organic at all.
Eat well. Be Healthy!
Here are some articles on the benefits of Organic farming:
It's been about a week since all of us in California have been ordered to "shelter in place." The idea is to avoid being around people so we can stop spreading Covid-19, the novel coronavirus, through human contact. This approach should "flatten the curve," meaning the rate of infections and total number of infected people should be lower than its potential max.
"Sheltering in place" requires us to only go out for essential needs and for non-essential businesses to temporarily close their doors. Essential needs include trips to the grocery store, medical visits, and caring for others who cannot care for themselves. Gyms, clothing stores, and bars have all closed down during this time, but banks, pharmacies, and gas stations are still open. We can still go out for walks or hikes. Exercise is important for our physical and mental health, especially being cooped up in a home for too long. Just remember to practice social distancing, not getting too close to other people.
Here's a quick list of what we think you should and shouldn't be doing during these difficult times:
There are some great articles to read if you'd like to learn more about the "shelter in place" policies or "social distancing." There are even some articles on at-home exercise routines and great foods to stock, not hoard, your pantry with. Overall, we'd like to see this as a unique learning experience. We can adjust and grow from this.
Be Safe and Stay Healthy!
We've had a bottle of multi-vitamins show up after months of hiding in a corner of our cabinet. The expiration date was due but there were so many tablets left. It got us wondering if they were safe to consume and if they would even provide any nutrition. I mean, what's the expiration date on there for anyways, right?
After Googling around and reading a few articles, we got our answer. No, vitamins don't go bad and they don't turn into poison. Vitamins are not like food and don't "spoil" per se. That is they won't make you sick if you eat them past the expiration date. So if you see a bottle with expired vitamins, feel free to take 'em.
The bad news is that they're not as effective. The expiration date on the bottle is there to confirm the last date of the vitamin's full potency. After that date, vitamins start to lose their supplement values. They can reduce by 10% or 20% quite quickly. We couldn't find an exact answer since all vitamins are different but all research seems to agree that the vitamins just won't be as nourishing. Not ideal but at least you won't die.
And if you're wondering about taking more vitamins to double up, that usually doesn't work and might actually cause more harm than good. First off, your body might not absorb all the extra nutrients. We can only handle so much at one time. Secondly, too much of one nutrient may cause a deficiency of another. For example, iron and zinc are absorbed through the similar binding sites in your body. This means if your body is absorbing all the iron, there's no room to absorb the zinc.
Lastly, store your vitamins like you would store your walnuts! Limit them from exposure to air, light, and moisture. All of these elements can cause vitamins to decay sooner and lose their potency faster. The best thing to do is to store them in a cool, dry place.
Here's a few more articles to read if you're interested in learning more:
We came across an article about carbohydrates and whether or not they're good for us. It caught our eye because there are so many low-carb diets nowadays and so many more "experts" claiming that carbohydrates are bad. This article seems to refute those claims.
Our bodies use carbohydrates as a first source for fuel. If we don't use all those carbs that we eat, it turns eventually turns into fat. Adding all those pounds can lead to obesity and a long list of other health problems over time. This is pretty much a biological truth. That's why so many people turn to low-carb diets. The reduced carb intake leads to weight loss, and supposedly, overall health improvements. The second part is not so true it seems.
When people follow low-carb diets, they usually rely on meats for calories and energy. While this works for immediate weight loss, it is not sustainable after a 6 month period. Worst of all, relying on meats for energy instead of a balanced diet with carbs has been linked to cancer and early death.
The researchers of this article suggest that a balanced diet is best and to look at your macronutrient intake. It's really about the quality of our carbs not the quantity. Good quality carbs in moderate amounts can lead to weight loss too!
We can get our carbs in three forms: sugars, starches, and fibers. They all serve their own purpose in a healthy diet. With that being said, consuming more fibers has been linked to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. And yes, almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are a great source of fiber and definitely linked to lowering the risk of heart disease.
Here's to your health!
More to Read:
Stress just keeps finding ways for us to not like it very much. Don't get me wrong. Stress can be great in small and short doses. It helps keep us alert and ready to perform. However, we humans under prolonged periods of stress tend not to do very well. Too much stress can lead to weight gain, bad sleep, poor heart health, decreased immune system, and even mental disorders.
Now we can add grey hair to that list. A research team at Harvard university have identified stress as a major factor for our hair going grey early. The study suggests that stress causes our nervous system to produce a hormone that destroys the stem cells we need for the color pigmentation in our hair. These are the same nerves that prepare our bodies in a "fight-or-flight" response.
When we feel stress, our nerves produce a a hormone called noradrenaline, or norepinephrine. Noradrenaline reaches into our hair follicles and causes a massive amount of our stems cells to convert into melanocytes. Melanocytes are required for our hair pigmentation, its color. Sounds good though, right? Don't we need melanocytes to make our hair color? Yes, but we don't need so many of them to convert all at once. And, here's the result: once stems cells convert into melanocytes and get used, they're gone. Each hair follicle has a limited amount of stem cells it can convert. Of course, this doesn't happen overnight. It takes a bit of time, as we all know, but now we also know that Stress can speed this process up.
The bigger picture is that stress can also lead to accelerated aging. That's still all being studied and researched but the idea isn't too far fetched. We know stress can impact us in a variety of ways, such as bad sleep or weight gain. All of which can lead to more serious health problems.
Regardless, we hope you all stay healthy and enjoy life out there. Life's too short to stress on it all anyways! =)
Here's some more reading if you're interest:
By now, most people should have heard of the new corona virus outbreak that started in Wuhan, China. This new corona virus, now called COVID-19, has been spreading at a rapid rate and has now claimed over 1,000 lives as of this writing. It's a serious epidemic and has been compared to the 1918 Spanish Flu as well as the MERs and SARs outbreaks. It's now spread to over 20 countries and has infected over 15,000 people.
The corona virus is an extremely dangerous and advanced version of the common cold. The virus attacks a person's respiratory system, such as your windpipe and lungs. It can cause bronchitis and even pneumonia. If left undiagnosed and untreated, the corona virus can lead to death in some cases.
If you've got the corona virus, you're most likely to feel like you've got a very painful cold or flu. Early symptoms include dry coughs and/or a fever. Headaches, runny nose, sore throat, and fatigue are common symptoms. In some rare cases, even diarrhea can occur. Most people feel shortness of breath within 5 days.
The good news is that people will be able to fight off the corona virus with proper rest and care. It's most deadly to people with weak immune systems, heart disease, or any other underlying health problems such as diabetes. Although the virus has been commonly diagnosed in people over the age of 40, people in their early twenties have been infected as well.
To treat the corona virus, follow the same basic steps as you would treat a cold.
Here are the major prevention tips:
Stay healthy out there!
Some good reads to learn more: