â by Cate Stevenson, BA
Getting organic produce is a lot easier than it used to be. Gone are the days when you had to track down a specialty store that sells a limited amount of fruits and vegetables in season. Now you can find organic foods in most of the major grocery store chains. Organic produce is available all year round, as the practice of organic farming spreads to different parts of the world. Though still a little pricier than conventional food, prices for organic have dropped somewhat from their initial high markup. Organic produce is no longer thought of as a rare commodity intended for consumption by only a few “health nuts.” Most shoppers now try to buy their favorite fruit or vegetable from the organic section.
This is a trend that can only benefit everyone in the end. Pesticides are known neurotoxins and have been implicated in everything from cancer to serious hormonal imbalances. Now, a new study has found that exposure to high levels of organophosphate pesticides, commonly found on berries, celery and other produce, could raise the odds for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
For the study, a research team based at the University of Montreal analyzed data on pesticide exposure and ADHD in more than 1,100 American children aged eight to 15. The research team found that children with higher pesticide levels in their urine were more likely to have ADHD. The researchers concluded that the higher the level of exposure (measured by the amount of metabolites in the urine of the participants), the higher the odds of having ADHD.
The research team speculates that high doses of organophosphates may inhibit an important nervous system enzyme, while lower doses of the pesticide may affect neurotransmitters. The researchers hope that the findings from this study may provide another clue on the causes of ADHD.
Certainly this doesn’t mean that you should avoid eating fruits and vegetables. What you can do, however, is to try to buy organic as much as possible and reduce your exposure to pesticides. You can try buying organic at farmers’ markets where prices tend to be lower. You can also make sure that you wash conventional fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them. There are specialty soaps that are available in most grocery stores that can help remove some pesticides from produce.