Where Do Chemicals in Our Food Come From?
To me, healthy eating simply means removing, or limiting, the foods in your diet that could be harming you; and eating enough of the foods that contain the nutrients essential to your health. So, what foods could be harming you? Ones filled with chemicals. Here are some of the main sources of unhealthy chemicals in our food:
Chemicals and drugs used in raising livestock
Researchers feel that this is probably the biggest problem and none of these are required to appear on the label. Over 70 percent of all antibiotics used in the USA are used in raising livestock to prevent infection because the animals are kept in cramped inhumane conditions.
Steroids are also given to increase milk production and speed growth. The feed given to these animals is full of chemicals as well and pesticides and chemicals accumulate in the fat of these animals that we then eat. So if you do eat dairy or animal protein, eating organic is important to decrease your chemical burden.
Chemicals used in pesticides and fertilizers
Although the use of pesticides has made our food production more efficient, it has placed a huge/large toxic burden on us and the earth. In 1995, more than 5 billion pounds of pesticides were sold worldwide, more than 1 billion pounds in the USA. FDA inspections have found legal residues on two thirds of food sampled, therefore these pesticides remain on our food.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), you can lower your pesticide consumption by nearly four-fifths by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and instead eating the least contaminated produce.
Chemicals used in the production of our food
Over 12,000 chemicals are used in the production of our food. Many are used intentionally as “direct” additives, but some are “indirect” contaminants or used accidentally. As of 1995, complete health risk assessments were available for only 5 percent of food additives.
The food industry uses about 3,000 different food additives in various packaged and preserved foods. These include (preservatives), emulsifiers, buffers, natural and artificial colorings and flavorings.
And then there are the genetically modified foods, which are now turning up all over the show. Here is a great guide on how to avoid foods made with genetically modified foods.
Chemicals we create in processing foods
Trans fats or hydrogenated fats would be the most common.
Contaminants associated with processing of foods
During shipping and storage, chemical cleaners, food sprays and fungicides are used.
Chemicals absorbed into our food from the way we cook, store and serve our food
Non stick pans, pots, bake-ware and utensils contain Teflon, which is made from perfluorinated compounds which have been linked to cancer and reproductive problems. And then we store and serve our food in containers that leech chemicals into our food, eg plastics and styrofoam.
And please remember this is only a list of chemicals in our food, not our water and personal care products, which are also full of chemicals.