If, like many of us, you are concerned about your family’s exposure to pesticides, there is a reason to smile. Dr. Chrensheng Lu of Emory University found that after just a few days of eating organic food, the levels of two common pesticides in children’s bodies dropped to zero.

The impetus for this study was an earlier research project on the pesticide levels in 110 children. Only one child was found to be pesticide free. That child was fed an organic diet. For this newest research, Lu and his team studied the levels of malathion and chlorpyrifos – two common organophosphorus pesticides. Even though these chemicals are banned for residential use, they are still commonly used in the field.

According to Dr. Nathan Graber, a fellow of pediatric environmental health at Mt. Sinai, there is evidence that the pesticides are dangerous. “We know that at high doses, these pesticides can cause serious symptoms because they are toxic to the nervous system.” He added that there is “sound scientific reasoning” suggesting that low doses can hurt the developing brain.

How can you protect yourself and your family? Whenever possible, buy organically grown fruits, vegetables and grains. This is especially important for certain crops, such as strawberries, peaches and apples, which tend to retain the highest levels of pesticides. According to Dr. Lu, this provides a “dramatic and immediate protective effect”.

When organic foods are unavailable, take the time to thoroughly wash your produce. Place a squirt of all natural dishwashing detergent in a large bowl or pan of water and swish your fruits or veggies around for a bit. You will see the residues coming off in the water. Then rinse well. Special washes designed specifically to remove chemical residues are also available in your local natural foods market.

So as the Monty Python song says “Always look on the bright side of life”. Even if you have eaten conventionally grown produce up to this point, with a little awareness and some diligence the pesticides in your body can soon be a thing of the past!

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