It’s a great science experiment for kids; and a sobering reminder for parents.  Simply grab some food coloring or other dye that dissolves in water, fill a small cup or bowl and place the cut end of your vegetable in the colored solution (you can also substitute some juices).

lettuce-and-food-coloring-pesticide-demonstration-plant-absorptionPlants aren’t just coated with pesticides, plants soak up pesticides; root vegetables in particular are vulnerable as well as fruits and veggies with thin “skins” as they lack the proper physical barriers needed for protection.  No matter how much you wash them you can’t get rid of the pesticides that are now throughout your food.

The National Institutes of Health’s recent studies have found,”Only 5–10% of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects, whereas the remaining 90–95% have their roots in the environment and lifestyle.”

According to the Pesticide Action Network,“90% of lettuce tests positive for 47 different pesticides and 57 different chemical residues.” 

Different pesticides have widely ranging levels of toxicity in humans, as well as to other animals that may be exposed to them unintentionally (which makes pretty good sense when you consider that these chemicals are designed to kill).  Keep track of the most current Environmental Working Group’s “Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen” list as an easy reference as to which foods contain the most pesticides so that you can protect yourself and your family even if you can’t afford to buy everything organic.  Each pesticide affects people differently, some have liver toxins, some affect the kidneys the most, then there are the neurotoxins that hit our brains and nervous systems the most, some lower immune function or the digestive system.  Pay attention to what is being used out there, not as an alarmist, but as a discerning and cautious consumer that remembers that once not long ago we thought that DDT was safe and Monsanto’s infamously toxic Agent Orange was supposedly “harmless.”

This demonstration can also be easily done with many types of white or light colored flower   or celery.

The four main systemic pesticides used on food crops are members of the nitroguanidine/ neonicotinoid group of chemicals, which has been implicated as a likely prime causal factor in colony collapse disorder(CCD), that has ravaged bee populations throughout the world. (See article EPA-approved GMO insecticide responsible for killing off bees, contaminating entire food chain.)

Imidacloprid, legal to apply up to the day before harvesting.

Thiamethoxam based pesticides are applied to the soil have since been approved for use on most vegetable and fruit crops. See a photo of seed corn treated with this chemical.

Clothianidin is used as a seed treatment on canola, cereals, corn and sugar beets, and as a soil treatment for potatoes.

Dinotefuran can be applied to soil or sprayed on leafy greens, potatoes and plants in the cucumber family.

When the Pesticide Action Network reviewed the results of pesticide residue tests conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1999 to 2007, they found that 74 percent of conventionally grown fresh lettuce and 70 percent of broccoli samples showed imidacloprid residues. Clothianidin was found in potatoes, thiamethoxam showed up in strawberries and sweet peppers, and some collard green samples were laced with dinotefuran.  And, as stated, these are things that you just can’t wash off.
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