A couple of nights ago, Speedy was watching a documentary about how Japan turned around its food production and economy after World War II with the use of pesticides. Few people don’t know about pesticides. They are sprayed on crops to kill pests and the residue is absorbed, and stays in, the soil. It’s a cumulative effect so that continuous and regular use makes agricultural produce more harmful to humans as times goes by. The video, of course, includes information about how all that is being changed today as agricultural practices have become more attuned to environmental concerns. Don’t poison the soil to make it produce food that is safe for human consumption.
Still, there were segments of the documentary that made my jaw drop. There were video footage of how pesticides were initially tested on humans to kill lice. But what was more shocking was the information that over decades of consuming pesticide laden fruits and vegetables, residue has actually been found in human breastmilk. I did a little research and found out that this is not even something new. From a 2001 article:
… One study published twenty years ago in the New England Journal of Medicine found that in an analysis of breastmilk from a sample of vegans, the levels of 17 chemicals were markedly lower than in the general population.
Another study from nearly a decade ago, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that frequency of consumption of meat, dairy, and fish was directly related to [breast] milk contamination. [Organic Consumers Association]
Note, however, that the quote is taken from the Organic Consumers Association. If you read the full article, it says there that going vegetarian or vegan lessens the chance that there pesticides will get into breastmilk because “Pesticides are stored in body fat. So, when women eat animal (including fish) flesh, they also absorb the pesticides consumed by that animal. Women, in turn, store those pesticides in their body fat, then pass them along to their nursing infants through their breastmilk.”
That’s their story. I don’t see how eating vegetarians and vegans who eat pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables can be safer producers of breastmilk. And that naturally leads to a conclusion that there only way to go is organic. Again, that is taken from the website of the Organic Consumers Association so I can’t really say I see no agenda there.
But, anyway, this pesticide in breastmilk thing is something new to me. I have consistently taken a strong position against how milk formula manufacturers use advertising to hoodwink the public (read “Ads, milk formulas and picky eaters” and “Ban milk formula ads“). I hate the implication that it is okay for one-year-olds and two-year-olds to refuse to eat table food so long as they drink so many glasses of milk formula everyday. My position hasn’t changed but, now, I cannot categorically state that breastmilk is best for babies.