7 Ways to Cut Pesticide Exposure

Much of my practice centers around guiding people back to health by giving them the tools they need to make it happen. One of the first steps on the wellness path involves reducing your ‘toxic load,’ which involves cutting the volume of chemicals and toxins that enter your body every day.

High toxic exposures can overwhelm the body’s ability to detoxify itself which, over time, can trigger a litany of diseases. To cut your toxic load relatively quickly, put chemical pesticides — and its toxic cousins, herbicides and insecticides — at the top of your detox list.

Here are some tips to start improving your health today:

Pay Attention to Your Plate

These days, unfortunately, the vast majority of people get their food from industrial-scale ‘factory-farms.’ Often subjected to pesticide sprayings throughout the growing cycle, these chemical-doused crops wind up on your plate, adding to your toxic load with every bite. So what’s a consumer to do? Try these four workarounds:

  • Buy USDA-certified organic produce: Though the certified seal system may not be foolproof, it goes a long way towards ensuring that certified organic produce, be it fresh or frozen, will contain little, if any, chemical pesticides. Another bonus: Most organics also deliver a bigger nutritional punch than conventionally grown crops.
  • Buy local produce at the farmer’s market or a community-supported agriculture group (CSA): Farmer’s market and CSA products may not always be labeled organic, but oftentimes that’s because many small producers cannot afford the cost of obtaining USDA certification. It’s always great to just ask. Small producers also typically use fewer (if any) toxic synthetic chemicals, relying instead on more environmentally friendly, natural methods of pest and weed control.
  • Buy smarter: If eating an all-organic diet simply isn’t in your budget — and for many people, it’s not — be sure to always consult the essential ‘Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen’ 2016 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides In Produce from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The guide identifies the top 15 conventionally grown fruits and vegetables that test low for pesticide residues, as well as the top 12 that test high, so consumers can buy accordingly.
  • Grow your own produce: Veggies and herbs grown in the backyard or on the windowsill connect you with nature’s bounty — and you can create healthy, clean, and inexpensive food sans pesticides. Have a bumper crop of zucchini? Trade veggies with the neighbors, or make your own fermented veggies to carry you into the fall.

Let Your Lawn Run a Little Wild

Instead of soaking your lawn in highly toxic glyphosate — the main ingredient in the ubiquitous weed killer RoundUp — get back to nature. Switch to an organic lawn care service or implement your own chemical-free lawn care methods that won’t pollute your body, water supply, or the local bee population. Also, remember that the chemicals you spray on your lawn get tracked into your home by the entire family, including your pets, so the less you use, the better for all. To keep from spreading pesticides throughout your home, store all shoes and boots in a separate area, hallway, or mudroom. Feeling bold? Then take it a step further and ask the neighbors to stop using RoundUp as well.

Use Natural Bug Repellents

Keep bug spray use, both indoors and out, to a minimum. Avoid bug ‘bombs’ and conventional extermination treatments, both of which tend to leave a lot of toxins in their wake long after their release. If bugs indoors are a problem, consider using an environmentally friendly enzyme spray or natural bug killer with ingredients that are toxic to bugs — not to you and your family.

Ditch Industrially Grown Flowers and Shrubbery

According to a 2014 report by the Friends of the Earth and the Pesticide Research Institute, many of the commercially grown trees, plants, and shrubbery for sale at local or big-box lawn centers are doused in insecticides. And those inexpensive cut flowers at the local market? They’ve most likely been bathed in pesticides that pollute the environment and sicken the workers who pick, process, and pack them — not so pretty. To buy cut flowers and potted plants that are kinder to the earth and its inhabitants, look for sustainably grown fair-trade flowers with the Veriflora certification.

Looking for more ways to kick toxins to the curb? Check out these 6 additional tips to lighten your toxic load.

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