Eating clean does not mean you have to be a vegan or a vegetarian. It means that you are making a conscious effort to eat wholesome food that is from the earth with minimal processing and contaminants. They are often organic and should never contain preservatives. But in a lot of cases the methods of today’s food producers are neither clean nor sustainable.
Here is a list of items that should be limited to your daily food consumption. While I am not saying to “ban” them from your diet, I want you all to be aware of the hidden dangers and to make adjustments when you can.
Canned Tomatoes Fredrick Vom Saal, PHD, Endocrinologist
Tin cans contain BPA – Bisphenol – A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to certain health problems: reproduction problems, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. The acidity found in tomatoes causes the BPA to leech out into the food and contaminating it. And not in canned tomatoes alone – all tomato based substances, like soups and sauces, should be avoided and purchased in glass containers.
Solution: Ditch the can and go for fresh. Easier said than done, I know. Making homemade soup on the weekend, searching for glass jars of tomatoes and tomato sauce, and understanding that fresh is really the best.
Corn-Fed Beef Joel Salatin, farmer, author
Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. Because of the high demand of meat these days, farmers are forcing cattle to eat corn and soybeans. Not only is this a cheaper food source, it also fattens up the cattle so they can slaughter them faster. Unfortunately this means more money for the cattle farmers, lower prices at the super market BUT LESS nutrition for us. Clemson University researched meat and found grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3’s, CLA, calcium, magnesium and potassium. It is also lower in inflammatory omega-6’s and saturated fat.
Solution: Buy grass fed beef. You can find it at specialty grocery stores, health food stores that carry fresh meat and farmers markets. If you don’t see grass-fed beef out on the shelves, ask the butcher. They sometimes will have it in the back or can easily get a shipment in. You can also buy direct from a local farmer – find one near you by visiting eatwild.com.
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is in the lining of the popcorn bag, are just some of the compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study at UCLA. In recent animal testing, PFOA caused liver, testicular and pancreatic cancer. When heated in a microwave, these compounds vaporize and leach into the popcorn you eat. While manufactures have promised to phase out PFOA by the year 2015, the chemical stays in your body for years and accumulates there.
Solution: Pop your corn the old fashion way – In a large pot with oil. Add REAL butter or nutritional yeast for flavor.
It only makes sense that root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides and fungicides that are in the soil. The potato is the most popular vegetable – think french fries! They are treated with large amounts of fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill the vines before harvesting. But it doesn’t stop there; after they are dug up they are yet again treated to prevent them from sprouting. “I’ve talked with potato farmers who say point blank they will not eat the potatoes they sell. They have a separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without the chemicals.” says Jeffery Moyer, who is the chair of the National Organic Standards Board.
Solution: Buy organic potatoes. Washing isn’t good enough as the chemicals absorb straight through the skin.
David Carpenter, MD, Director of the Institution for Health and the Environment
Nature did not intend for salmon to be locked up in pens, crammed in on each other and fed soy, poultry litter and hydrolyzes chicken feathers. Farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants which include cancer causing carcinogens, PCB’s, flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. The most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which is found on American menus. Science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity. There is also the concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. “You could eat on of these salmon dinners ever 5 months with increasing your risk of cancer,” says Carpenter. “It’s that bad.”
Solution: Look for wild-caught Alaskan salmon. If you see fresh Atlantic, it’s farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon.
Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones
To boost milk production, producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone AKA rBGH or rBST. rBGH increases udder infections and even pus in the milk – YUCK! It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor. High levels of IGH-1 contribute to breast, prostate and colon cancers. “When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1nfrom milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract,” says Rick North. As it turns out, the casein in milk protects most of it. “There is no proof that this is increasing cancer in humans. However it’s banned in most industralized countries.”
Solution: Check the labels for rBGH-free, rBST-free, produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk. Also be aware that in order to be free of all artificial hormones in dairy, all dairy must be organic – cheese, yogurt, butter, etc.
Apples are the most heavily sprayed fruit in the supermarket. Why? Apples are grafted to maintain their each unique and distinctive flavor. Because of this, apples do not develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. While the industry claims these residues are not harmful, it is common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most sprayed and treated produce. “Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers,” says Mark Kastel, former executive for agribusiness and organic food expert. And increasing number of studies are starting to link a high percentage with Parkinson’s disease and high levels of ingested pesticides.
Solution: Buy organic apples. If you cannot afford organic apples, be sure to wash a peel the apple before eating it.
Side note – here is a list of the 12 most heavily contaminated produce in the market: (in no particular order)
- Bell peppers (green and red)
- Spinach (tied with number 2)
- Cherries (grown in the United States)
- Peaches (grown in Chile)
- Cantaloupe (grown in Mexico)
- Green beans