Is Our Food Poisoning Us?

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***Just a quick note to tell you about the fabulous Bake Sale For Haiti that is going on today! My X’s and G’los Valentine’s Day Variety Pack is up for auction (includ. the new S’moooooooooooore bar!!) in addition to a TON of other delicious looking goodies!*** :mrgreen:

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Hey guys!

Sorry about my disappearance today. I have been going through some personal stuff and had to attend to that in addition to my work.

But alas, I am here as soon as I could be, and I have quite an interesting topic I would like to discuss!

You may or may not be aware that I am a huge Dr. Oz fan. I saw his very first appearance on Oprah and I was immediately a fan. I own almost all of his books and I just love his balanced approach to health. Each week I check his website and see what shows I want to see and then I set the VHS to tape it. (Yes, I said VHS…remember those? No PVR here. We don’t have cable!) :oops:

I taped today’s episode because I love the topic. It was on common everyday foods that may be poisoning us. I was intrigued to find out what Dr. Oz had to say!

Dr. Oz said there are three main poisons in our food:

xin 17110224070425008551 thumb   Is Our Food Poisoning Us? 1) Mercury

90% of all mercury in our blood is derived from eating fish. High levels of mercury have been shown to attack the brain and nervous system. ‘Fish Fog’ is a term used to describe a person with mercury poisoning; symptoms often include foggy and unclear thinking, difficulty concentrating, etc.

While most fish contain some mercury, the fish with the highest level of mercury is the sushi-grade tuna, according to Dr. Oz. He advised against eating tuna often. Interestingly enough, Dr Oz’s study found that Albacore tuna (which is an expensive type of tuna) actually had higher mercury levels than regular chunk light tuna (the cheap stuff!). I found this quite shocking! When I used to eat fish, I always tried to buy Albacore because I thought it was safer. Not true, says Dr. Oz. Albacore tuna is higher in mercury because it is a bigger and older fish. As a general rule of thumb, bigger and older fish will have higher levels of mercury in them. Fish with high levels of mercury include: Sushi, tuna, and tilefish, among others.

Dr. Oz recommends selecting small and young types of fish like herring, sardines, and even salmon as safer choices for lower mercury levels.

There was a time in university when I used to live off of tuna. I’m not even joking. Canned chunk light tuna was cheap and I ate a can everyday. :cry: Maybe my exam scores would have been higher had I not?? ;)

2) Pesticides

On virtually all non-organic fruit and vegetables, pesticides can be found. Inchfa 03 img0699 thumb   Is Our Food Poisoning Us? some human and animal research, pesticides are thought to increase the risk of ADHD, autism, and obesity.

Now don’t stop eating your fruits and veggies, instead become a wise consumer of what you select.

Obviously organic produce is expensive, so that is why we can find out what fruits and vegetables are at the lowest risk for pesticides and try to purchase those whenever possible. I tend to follow the Dirty Dozen (and clean fifteen) rules of thumb whenever possible.

If you can only purchase one fruit that is organic, they suggest buying organic apples. Why? Because people tend to eat a lot of apples and it is on the dirty dozen list.

If you can only purchase one organic vegetable than purchase organic potatoes. I didn’t know this, but potatoes are one of the worst vegetables for pesticides, so much so that the pesticides seep through the skin into the actual potato. For some reason I thought that potatoes would have a thick skin and be resistant to pesticides, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I would like to add that two vegetables I always buy organic are spinach and kale, as they are near the top of the list and I eat them very frequently (For organic spinach that is about half the price- go to Costo! I just discovered this myself.) Low-risk vegetables like cucumbers, onions, cabbage, eggplant, asparagus, and broccoli, I do not buy organic in an effort to save money.

3) Bisphenol A (BPA)

BPAcanfood thumb   Is Our Food Poisoning Us? Ninety-three percent of adults have some amount of BPA in their blood. BPA is a building block found in many plastics and linings of cans. BPA is thought to increase the risk of infertility, cancer, diabetes, and obesity (however this is widely debated).

How can we protect ourselves against BPA?

  • Check the number on the bottom of the plastic. Number 7 (hard clear plastic) contains BPA. Number 3 (PVC) and Number 6 (Polystyrene) are also known to leach chemicals.
  • Buy fresh food whenever possible
  • If you can’t buy fresh food, buy frozen food instead of cans
  • Select glass containers as opposed to cans
  • Do not freeze or microwave plastic

So there you have it, three poisons in our everyday foods, according to Dr. Oz.

Personally, I think it is a shame that we have to worry about our food so much in this day and age. Everything just seemed so much more simple a 100 years ago! It is quite sad when I think about the state that our food system is in. For the most part, the food industry is all about cranking out the most amount of food for the lowest amount of cost. In turn, our food has become compromised in a huge, huge way. Pesticides, GMO’s, and other chemicals are the norm.

I feel like everywhere we turn, there is a new study out there saying that this food is bad to eat or this chemical is in our food. When will it end? And most importantly, will there ever be a day in our future when we can feel confident in the food that we put in our bodies? Or will the system continue to get worse?

I try not to get bogged down too much about BPA or other such things because I think that it is impossible to avoid it entirely. I also think it is still too early to really know what effect these things are having on our bodies. For now I just try to make sensible choices when I can and not let myself lose sleep over it. If I listened to all the reports, there wouldn’t be anything left to eat!

What are your thoughts on the 3 above mentioned ‘poisons’? Do you avoid any of them :?:

Time to catch some zzzzzz’s. Been a long day. Nighty night, don’t let the bed bugs bite.

Angela Signature thumb29   Is Our Food Poisoning Us?

There are no seasons in the American supermarket. Now there are tomatoes all year round, grown halfway around the world, picked when it was green, and ripened with ethylene gas. Although it looks like a tomato, it’s kind of a notional tomato. I mean, it’s the idea of a tomato. ~Michael Pollan

[photo sources 1, 2, 3]

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{ 95 comments… read them below or add one }

Marissa January 27, 2010

wow! great info! i love dr. oz too!

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Maija February 1, 2010

Hi, I finally have a chance to add my “two cents worth”. We do not have a lot of money. In fact we are the a standard middle class family with limited extra money. However, we ALWAYS buy organic milk, apples, onions, potatoes and as many others as we can afford that week. Also, our family never eats anything that has been heated up in plastics (avoid those estrogens) and rarely eats items with artificial colours and flavours.
Here is my soap-box: I inwardly cringe when supposedly-healthy people (in our society healthy=thin) drink diet drinks, no-fat cheese, artificial butter spray and lay out in the sun on their pesticide infested yards. We must remember that outward beauty, i.e. botoxed skin, a perfect yard and a gorgeous shiny apple, are often made more beautiful by toxins that harm us in the end. Organic foods are typically smaller, a little misshapen and sometimes have a worm hole or two. In other words, organic foods are a little more like us. I like that.

Happy healthy eating.

Thanks for asking, Angela.

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Heidi January 27, 2010

I had heard that any veggie or fruit that has a skin that you intend to eat should be your organic purchases. Thanks for the tips on finding BPA-free plastics. I’ll be certain to look out for these!
I really don’t think that, in this day and age of research, we will be able to feel 100% confident about ANYTHING we eat. It seems there will always be one story or another about hidden dangers. I’m a firm believer that the closer food is to the way it was “born”, the safer it is to eat. Clean eating all the way for me!

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Kris | iheartwellness.com January 27, 2010

Yup! I agree with it all!

I eat all organic fruit and veg because I know my body likes it better! I do not eat canned goods on a regular as they freak me out now :)

And well mercury is a whole other story…..YIKES is all I can say!

XXOO
Kris

Ps. DR.OZ Rocks! I loved his video on the water issue :|

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Amy January 27, 2010

Hey Angela…hang in there hun, you are so strong and healthy – you’ll get through it! :)

I am a huge Dr. Oz fan as well. I own several of his books and follow his shows. I like his frank and easy-to-understand advice. I wish all physicians had his bedside manner. Anyway, the chemical thing is a fairly strong concern of mine. I’m a new vegan (2 weeks in) and pack my lunch everyday for work. I’m really starting to feel AMAZING and becoming more atune to what’s going into my body. I’m slowly replacing the plastic containers I take my lunch to work in with small glass (Pyrex) containers. I feel better about reheating my food in glass. I’ve also read The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone…she even goes as far to suggest microwaves damage our food. It seems everywhere you turn, there’s one more thing that’s killing us. Very depressing and can drive a person mad if you consider every single lick of information. What’s most frustrating is the conflicting studies and reports. There isn’t much conclusive evidence one way or the other.

I think minimizing the risks is the best we can do at this point. I also have 3 small children…and I’m doing my best to educate them and teach them how to care for their bodies via clean, sustainable lifestyle choices.

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jime January 27, 2010

Oh Angela I really hope everything its ok I just couldnt pay attention to your article cause I was just wishing everything is ok I wish you the best and Im sure Ill be delighted when Iread ur article with my full attention Wish u THE BEST!!

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Allie (Live Laugh Eat) January 27, 2010

I’m currently reading Omnivore’s Dilemma for class and just read about nitrogen, pesticides, etc. SCARY STUFF!! I always get really scared of food when I am exposed to this kind of information. Sad. It shouldn’t be that way.

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Katie@ Two Lives, One Lifestyle January 27, 2010

I try to buy organic when I can, especially with things like apples, since I eat it peel and all. After seeing documentaries and reading books about these sorts of topics, it always stood out to me that farmers who grow for corporate farms won’t eat the produce because they spray it with so many chemicals!

The research I’m involved in is centered around modeling chemical substances and their effects on the body- I do more with pharma but I learned a ton about pesticide and other environmental toxins when I was starting- it is pretty scary. I have a graduate student budget but still try to buy organic.

Um, sorry, that was a long response, but in summary, YES I try to avoid pesticides and food chemicals!

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ashley January 27, 2010

I don’t worry about mercury too much since I limit my tuna to about twice a week. I wish I could avoid pesticides and BPA more, but right now I have to get by with dorm food, and fruits and veggies with pesticides have to be better than none, right?! Nice post though!

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Heather (Heather's Dish) January 27, 2010

i try to avoid all of them honestly, but i can’t say i go out of my way to pay extra for organic produce that’s free of pesitcides and whatnot. i try to clean it all as best i can before use though!

hope everything’s OK…i’m going through personal stuff as well and know it’s not super fun. you’re in my thoughts :)

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Shelly January 27, 2010

I honestly think that it totally sucks that I have to buy cheaper pesticide laden produce…I see the organic produce along side the “regular normal produce” (Which in reality and with history is NOT normal or healthy) and I have to choose the pesticide thousand mile journey produce in favour over the organic stuff because it’s simply is not in my budget…due to being a student and paying all the rest of the billages….
Oh when did the bottom line take over the well-being of general society?
Oh and this totally twists my panties in a bunch….I long for the day when organic totally natural produce will overtake the pesticide GMO foods of our current supermarket settings.

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Ariana @Artarra January 27, 2010

Thank you very much for this interesting post. I didn’t knew the things about the mercury and the bisphenol – freaking…

On the other side it’s important not becoming to scared about what you eat (pesticides, additives, microwave, teflon and and and…), because if we are only paying attention to the bad things around us we are more likely harmed than if we are focussing on the good nutrition etc. These days it’s impossible to life completely healthy. Although we should try to make sensitive choices we should not let this healthy living thing overcome us.

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Emmanuelle January 27, 2010

Hi Angela, haven’t commented in a while here but always reading :-)
Thanks for the info, I downloaded the dirty dozen app on my iphone a couple of days ago, I’ll try to stick to it as much as I can, I guess the pesticide level is the same everywhere in the world.
Anyway I always buy my apples organic, I love apples and the organic ones I find at the supermarket taste much better than the regular ones for a start!
I was also surprised by the potato info, I too believed that they were quite “safe” what with the thick skin!

For mercury, well as a vegetarian I don’t eat fish, so that’s not a big concern, but I wasn’t really aware about the BPA, that’s scary, I’ll pay more attention from now on.

Hope everything’s alright with you.

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Joanna January 27, 2010

Hi Angela and others – just a quick plea related to your interesting info on fish and food safety. Even MORE important to consider than mercury levels is the threat of extinction for many ocean fish. Most fishing industries are not sustainable at all and so we need to be especially careful to eat fish rarely, and then to choose species that are not endangered, or sources that have been verified as sustainable. I recommend the following two websites for more info, but these are probably geared to consumer choice in the UK – you may be able to find equivalent organisations in Canada and the US.
http://www.fishonline.org/
http://www.msc.org/

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Heather January 27, 2010

Ange-
Question….how do you feel about the fruit and veggie wash that comes in a spray bottle? I have never bought it but i always look at it and wonder.

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MonicainDallas January 27, 2010

I’ve heard that using white vinegar and water cleans vegetables better than the veggie wash stuff (and much cheaper too!)
http://www.greendaily.com/2007/10/01/vinegar-and-water-gets-fresh-fruit-the-cleanest-better-than-s/

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Heather January 28, 2010

thanks!!

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Tracy January 27, 2010

Angela- I am new to your blog and enjoy it very much! Have you read “The Food Revolution” by John Robbins and “The China Study”? I read them a few years ago and immediately went vegetarian and organic (trying to go vegan). VERY good books!!

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Haleigh January 27, 2010

I hope everything is okay girl! Interesting topic. I would love to eat all organic produce but that’s just not possible with my budget so I just try to do the best that I can.

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Jessica @ How Sweet It Is January 27, 2010

I do pay attention to mercury, pesticides, and BPAs. We try to take action is doing things to prevent them – the only once I am fairly skeptical about is mercury. When I trained for one of my fitness shows I ate tuna like 2-3 times a day for months! I know alot of other people who did this too. Granted I really don’t eat it anymore, and I’m sure it happens if you eat it that way for YEARS. I did know that chunk light had less mercury, but my mom was all about albacore too!!

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LindsayRuns January 27, 2010

I do try to be aware of what is “bad” like know the dirty dozen, be educated on things like BPA, etc. But most of the time it’s like water off a duck’s back to me. I’ll do it when it makes financial or organizational sense to me, but there is no way I’m gonna spend my life freaking out over stuff that I basically have little control over. Will eating this conventional apple today eventually set off the chain of events that gives me cancer in thirty years?? How about this sip of water out of a plastic bottle? That’s just too exhausting for me. :)
Hope your personal life sorts out in a positive direction soon!

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Jess January 27, 2010

I too sometimes feel that I have to be careful of everything I eat and drink. I know about the tuna and hate that it’s so high in mercury as I love to add it to salad. I think I need to work on completely removing it from my meals.

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Katie @ Health for the Whole Self January 27, 2010

I appreciated this post because I think you emphasize a balanced approach. On the one hand, we need to be aware of what we’re putting into our bodies (at least as aware as we can be), so that we can make the best, most informed choices for ourselves. On the other hand, if we obsess about every little detail we’d never be able to eat anything! Your approach – and in my opinion the best one – is to try to find a middle ground between the extremes of worrying about everything and caring about nothing.

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Shannon January 27, 2010

I love Dr. Oz, but I rarely catch his show or think to record it. I try to use less plastic containers and more glass. Tim cans are hard. I don’t buy canned veggies, but soups and diced tomatoes are mostly found in cans. I suppose it is all about making better choices whenever possible instead of getting too obsessive or scared. Thanks for the info!

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Stacy January 27, 2010

Since I am high-raw and vegan, I definitely try to buy all organic. When money is tight, I follow the dirty dozen for sure!

Hang in there Angela! I’m sure you know this but what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger :)

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Janice @ O.S.M.B. January 27, 2010

I’ve just found out that pesticides are also found to have a connection to breast cancer. And in fact, the huge increase in the number of breast cancer cases in the past 10-15 years is said, by some, to be directly connected with our increase in use of pesticides.

Sad that when you think you’re eating healthy to protect yourself from diseases like cancer (with fruits, veggies, etc.) you’re actually potentially putting yourself at a higher risk is not done right.

Thanks for the info!

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Heather @ Side of Sneakers January 27, 2010

very informative!! I’m trying to learn more about them so I can make more “aware” decisions!

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Tammy Root January 27, 2010

Hi Ange,
I too love Dr. Oz and have been a fan since his first Oprah appearance. I have all his books (except “You Having a Baby — not ready for that one yet!)and I even bought his “You The Owner’s Manual” book for my fiancee’s mom for XMAS. And, on our drive home I insisted to Denny (my fiancee) that we must buy the new “You” book on DVD and listen to it on the 14 hour drive. Denny is convinced I would rather marry Dr. Oz than him and has now tried to mimic Dr. Oz and his famous questions such as “How was your poop today?” (Only Dr. Oz fans will understand that!)

Anyhow, fast forward to 3 weeks ago when I was sitting in my supervisor’s office (Cindy Bulik at UNC, Chapel Hill) for a one-on-one meeting and she received a phone call for an upcoming appearance — she is a renowned eating disorders specialist and has appeared on several shows including the Today Show, Rachel Ray, Dr. Phil, Good Morning America, etc. After she hung up I asked what show she was doing next and she said, ‘Dr. Oz.” I leaped from my chair in excitement and was so excited for her! I called the Dr. Oz show to get tickets but that particular tape date was booked. Knowing what a huge fan I am, Cindy emailed the producer and got Denny and I VIP tickets to that show. We went to NYC two weeks ago. I was and still am on cloud nine!! Meeting Dr. Oz was the best! Anyhow, given that part of the show is about eating disorders I thought you might be interested to know the airdate in the US is Friday, February 5th. You may even see me in the audience! We were in the first row. :) So, needless to say, when I saw your post about Dr. Oz, I just had to reply.

I really hope you feel better soon and whatever is going on works itself out. We miss you when you are not tweeting regularly and when you are feeling down. :(

Sending a big cyber hug your way…

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 27, 2010

WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

That is SO exciting!!!

Eric and I got show tix a while back but it was a weekend that we were away so we couldnt go! :(

I hoep to attend some day (and rock out a fab trip to NYC too!)

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Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat) January 27, 2010

I saw this show yesterday and was absolutely riveted. A lot of it was information I already knew but some of it was new. I thought the most useful was what foods we should ALWAYS buy organic (apples and potatoes) and which foods are okay to skip to the organic.

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Morgan @ Life After Bagels January 27, 2010

oh my, I had never read that dirty dozen list before . . . and I eat most of what’s on there . . . thanks for sharing and I have some thinking to do

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Julie Boyer January 27, 2010

Hey Angela! Thanks for an interesting and educational post. We miss your tweets and hope all is well soon. Let me know if there is anything I can do from out here in Burlington :-)

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Diana January 27, 2010

Yes, I def try to avoid those. I also feel sort of like processed foods in general are like poison and try to avoid them as much as possible. I still eat them once in awhile out of convenience, but I prefer the freshest most whole food possible.

:) Diana
PS Thanks for linking to the bake sale! I know your glo bars are going to be a BIG HIT!

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Kim January 27, 2010

I recorded this show as well. I try to avoid too much fish and choose the younger ones with less mercury.

I have been buying more & more organic produce.

Kim

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Maxine January 27, 2010

I try to avoid these and many more as much as possible but it is impossible so I supplement with antioxidants to fix and reduce free radical damage caused by these poisons. I am also starting my own organic veggie garden in the spring as my NY resolution. Thankfully, more people are aware of this and it is possible to get organic produce delivered to you these days.

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Mae @ OhhMay January 27, 2010

This is really interesting. I keep on telling myself that I will buy organic fruits and veggies once I’m actually making money instead of saving for the big college debt next year. It almost seems that organic food in the isles (crackers, cookies, cereals, breads) is more accessable and less expensive than organic produce.
I can’t imagine buying organic spinach, our groccery bill would increase about $10!
The bake sale sounds awesome I can’t wait to check it out.

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Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg January 27, 2010

Yep– I totally agree with you. Our desire for cheap, convenient food has come with a price: food safety. It’s sad…but at the same time, I don’t see how it’s going to change any time soon. I remember in Food Inc. when someone was talking about how we spend less money on food now than ever before…I think people have gotten used to the cheapness of (bad) food, and aren’t willing to pay more now that they see how cheap it can be (even though we’re paying for it IMMENSELY in other ways– hello, healthcare?!?).

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cece January 27, 2010

I love Dr. Oz too! I have been home recovering from shoulder surgery and have been able to watch him almost everyday! He had a great piece last week about a woman army sargeant who lost her leg in a roadside bomb and how she was determined to recover…with hard work and a tenacious attitude. Wrote about it on a recent blog post at the Two Whos
http://www.Thetwowhos.com
Love your blogand am visiting regularly!
cece …one of the two Whos

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Ashlei January 27, 2010

Thanks for such an informative post Angela!! I’ve been trying to increase the amount of organic produce I buy and work it into my budget to reduce pesticide exposure to myself and the environment :)

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Paige @ Running Around Normal January 27, 2010

Awesome, awesome post, Ange. Very informative!
I’m a huge Dr. Oz fan, too.
I agree, it’s so scary how more and more studies keep popping up about how we are putting chemical-laden, genetically engineered bad foods into our bodies!

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thedelishdish January 27, 2010

I completely agree that we can’t obsess over the chemicals that we are exposed to, but at the same time it’s scary to think about it! I take the same approach as you and try to buy organic as much as I can afford for the foods I eat the most of and hope that’s enough!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 27, 2010

I agree…it is a delicate balance between opening our eyes and not being in denial to trying to live our lives and not obsess!

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Jesi January 27, 2010

Great post!! Question – do you buy organic or regular bananas? I noticed in the one article that they have slipped from 9th cleanest to 21st. Quite a drop!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 27, 2010

We buy non organic bananas unless the organic are on sale. I always assumed that the thick skin protected them?

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Audrey January 27, 2010

I always thought so, too.

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Danielle (Coffee Run) January 27, 2010

I’m a huge Dr. Oz fan too :) I’m glad he got his own show!
I don’t consume fish so I think I’m fine with mercury; I only buy organic for things on “the dirty dozen” so I’m good with that, but BPA I’m really bad about :? Too many plastic containers…

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Anne Marie@New Weigh of Life January 27, 2010

The poisons really scare me, but I’m not one who can afford organic, so I try to stick with the fruits that are thick skinned.

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