Part 2 of 3: Raising awareness: the dangerous truth behind the toxins present in our food supply
Your child’s favorite breakfast cereal could contain toxic pesticides!
Did you know that oats, rice, and wheat are major but lesser-known, sources of toxic pesticides?
The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that at least half of our dietary intake of grains be from whole grains as a part of a healthy diet1. However, less than 5% of Americans meet the recommended dietary intake for whole grains (≥ 3 oz/day)1. Contrarily, over 95% of Americans meet the recommended dietary intake of refined grains (≤ 3 oz/day)1 mostly in the form of packaged and processed foods (i.e., white bread, white rice, cereal, pasta, cookies, cakes, bagels, doughnuts, crackers, chips). Refined grains are stripped of their outer bran and germ layers during manufacturing- the parts of the grain that contain the majority of its nutrients (fiber, vitamins, and minerals)- leaving behind the nutrient-depleted endosperm. This process makes refined grains far less nutritious than whole grains.
The Standard American Diet is heavily laden with processed foods made up of refined grains, sugar, salt, and fat. This combination of nutrient-poor, calorically dense ingredients may be why processed food consumption has been linked to the obesity epidemic2 and an increased risk for other non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and depression3.
Despite the USDA’s attempts to shift American plates to contain more whole grains, there is still nationwide overconsumption of refined grains. Why? Perhaps it’s due to the addicting nature of processed foods? Or that refined grains are cheaper and more accessible than whole grains? Or maybe it comes down to an education issue with less than half of low-income adults able to correctly identify whole grains from refined grains4.
In any case, processed food consumption keeps the demand for grains high. So high that the government pays farmers extra to grow wheat, corn, soy, rice, and oats in order to keep up with the demands of the market2. As a result, monocropping, or only growing one crop at a time without rotation, has become a popular agricultural practice2. Monocropping requires heavy pesticide application to kill any unwanted weeds or insects that may potentially contaminate crops, resulting in a streamlining of harvests2.
Cue RoundUp, the most widely used pesticide in U.S. agriculture with 1.1 billion pounds applied annually5. The active component of Roundup, glyphosate, targets the shikimate pathway of weeds, insects, and fungi, the pathway responsible for their growth, abolishing them on the spot. Glyphosate is a water-soluble chemical that has made its way into our soil, food, air, and water supply. In 2015, the World Health Organization classified glyphosate as a neurotoxin, teratogen (a substance that may cause birth defects), and a “probable human carcinogen”6. Despite this, the EPA states glyphosate as having low toxicity for humans7 and U.S. regulators allow an acceptable daily intake of 1.75 mg/kg of body weight per day compared to the European Union which only allows 0.3 mg/kg of body weight per day8.
Glyphosate is sprayed directly on wheat and oats before harvesting to kill the crop and dry it out sooner than if the plant were to have died naturally9. In 2018, the Environmental Working Group tested more than a dozen brands of wheat and oat-based cereal products and found most samples exceeded the upper limit of “safe” glyphosate levels set by the EPA9. This is of special concern for 1- to 2-year-old children since they’re smaller and tend to consume oat and wheat-based cereal products often. The worst offenders were Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats (930 ppb), Quaker Oats Dinosaur Eggs (700 ppb), Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal (497 ppb), and Lucky Charms (400 ppb)9.
Glyphosate has also been linked to disruption of the gut microbiome, autism, ADHD, birth defects, celiac disease, diabetes, depression, cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, dementia, obesity, and leaky gut10. This proposes the question, is it the consumption of ultra-processed foods contributing to the exponential rise in chronic, non-communicable disease? Or is it the presence of glyphosate on our grains and in our food supply that we are encouraged to eat as a part of a healthy diet?
Regardless, to limit your and your children’s exposure to glyphosate opt for organic options and skip the non-organic packaged wheat, corn, soy, and oat-based cereal and processed food products! This way you can avoid toxic pesticides.
For more information on Toxic Pesticides, please visit us at Specialized Therapy Associates or call 201-488-6678 to book an appointment.
Tune into our next newsletter for part 3 of “Raising awareness: the dangerous truth behind the toxins present in our food supply”.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at DietaryGuidelines.gov.
- Franck C, Grandi SM, Eisenberg MJ. Agricultural subsidies and the American obesity epidemic. Am J Prev Med. 2013;45(3):327-333. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2013.04.010
- Lane MM, Davis JA, Beattie S, et al. Ultraprocessed food and chronic non-communicable diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis of 43 observational studies [published online ahead of print, 2020 Nov 9]. Obes Rev. 2020;10.1111/obr.13146. doi:10.1111/obr.13146
- Molika Chea, Amy R Mobley, Factors Associated with Identification and Consumption of Whole-Grain Foods in a Low-Income Population, Current Developments in Nutrition, Volume 3, Issue 7, July 2019, nzz064, https://doi.org/10.1093/cdn/nzz064
- Atwood, Donald, and Paisley-Jones, Claire. “Pesticides Industry Sales and Usage: 2008-2012 Market Estimates.” Environmental Protection Agency, 2017. Retrieved May 29, 2019, from https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-01/documents/pesticides-industry-sales-usage-2016_0.pdf