Friday, April 25, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Mother Nature’s pesticides

By
From page A2 | September 11, 2012 | Leave Comment

“Most plants employ chemical warfare to survive,” says Bruce Ames, a senior scientist for nutrition and metabolism at Children’s Hospital in Oakland and professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. He’s also a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, and inventor of the widely used Ames test, which helps screen for cancer-causing agents.

“Think about it,” he told me. “Most plants the world over are poisonous and unfit for human consumption. That’s how nature allows them to protect themselves from predators.”

Yes, over millennia man has found a way to domesticate some of them, so to speak. But in the main, not many are edible. Those that are edible are still loaded with naturally occurring pesticides.

“In fact,” he said, “99.99 percent of the pesticides you get from foods are naturally occurring toxins. And they are every bit as ‘dangerous’ as the synthetic variety.”

Which, if you are consuming them as part of a normal diet — and not at the astronomically high levels that cause some cancers in animal studies — is, well, “not very.” Or better put, it would be far more dangerous to eschew a diet full of fruits and vegetables and all the crucial cancer-fighting and other nutrients they provide than to consume the trace amounts of pesticides, whether naturally occurring or synthetically made, that come with all produce.

Essentially, Ames told me, forget the organic-vs.-conventionally-grown debate. What’s important is that you eat your fruits and veggies — and a lot of them.

I talked to Ames because a study just out in the Annals of Internal Medicine demonstrates — again — that organic produce has no more vitamins or other nutrients than does the often far less expensive conventionally grown variety.

But typically the debate over whether to shell out all that extra money for organic produce is less about the nutritional value than about the pesticide residue that may be clinging to the grapes or apples or lettuce. And, in fact, this analysis found that conventionally grown produce, as one would expect, is much more likely to have trace amounts of detectable synthetic-pesticide residue than its organic counterpart. It’s worth noting, though, that here such residue could not be detected on most produce examined. And the trace amounts that were found were well within what is considered safe for human consumption.

Anyway, as I’ve written before, it’s the widespread use of synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers that allows us to have cheap and widely available healthy foods in the first place. Strawberries in January in Chicago? As a child, my grandmother would have been amazed. A fertilizer that makes that peach grow bigger and with deeper colors so my kids actually eat it? That’s money in the bank. Or, rather, nutrients in their systems.

Oh, and by the way, protection from E. coli, which can be present in natural fertilizers? Priceless. An E. coli outbreak from organically grown produce in Germany last year led to at least 44 deaths and thousands of people sickened. If the same were caused by contamination of conventionally grown produce, the outrage would be palpable. But I digress.

Most interesting, though, Ames shared with me that he and his colleagues at Berkeley set up an extensive database of hundreds of animal-cancer studies done over decades. Researchers in these studies basically figure out what level of the chemical being studied would kill the animal immediately, they give it just a little less for its whole life and then ask, “Does it cause cancer?” Half the time when it comes to synthetic pesticides, the answer is “yes.” But half the time when it comes to naturally occurring pesticides, the answer is “yes,” too. And the latter is far more prevalent in our produce than anything man makes.

The point is not to be scared. Literally any substance is toxic in a high-enough dose. The point is to understand that eating something “natural” does not automatically confer amazing health benefits. What does? The same thing Mother always said: Eating lots of fruits and vegetables. And now we can add, from whatever the source.

Yep, nutrition fads come and go. But this is age-old wisdom that really can help us to age well.

Betsy Hart’s latest book is “From The Hart: A Collection of Favorite Columns on Love, Loss, Marriage (and Other Extreme Sports).” Reach her through hartmailbox-mycolumn@yahoo.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Concert master gets solo during Solano Symphony shows

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
So, where is that editor?

By Susan Winlow | From Page: B1

Suisun break ground on Walmart

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
District attorney candidates field questions at forum

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Open Studios May 3-4 in Benicia

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
‘Tonight Show’ comic stops in Vallejo

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

The spy who went to Armijo High

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

 
Cheating Daylight kicks off tour in hometown

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B2

Little Anthony joins line up at county fair

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B2

 
Notable Benicia homes, colorful gardens open for tour

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B2

Daily Republic seeks good news for column

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3, 5 Comments

 
Sutter’s thank-you to children gets top marks

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Suisun Marsh plan gets federal signoff

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3

 
Vacaville police promote 3 from within

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Machete-attack case goes to jury

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3

 
Tickets on sale for Denim and Diamonds fundraiser

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Spring book sales at Vacaville, Vallejo libraries

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Children battle in Suisun – using book knowledge

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Library fundraiser ‘BrewHaha’ on tap May 3

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

 
Brown reappoints Vacaville man to post

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5

Community meeting on Fairfield crime set

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Fairfield police log: April 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: April 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Weather for Friday, April 25, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B12

 
.

US / World

Chicago doctor among those killed in Afghanistan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Water picture improves for some California towns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Study links California drought to global warming

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Gunman kills 3 Americans at Kabul hospital

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Bill calls for enhanced lessons on Obama election

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
100-year-old California woman gets diploma

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California bill attacks growing corporate wage gap

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
NRA seeks universal gun law at national meeting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Senate report criticizes former DHS watchdog

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Measles off to a fast start, as cases trend up

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Nevada rancher defends remarks, loses supporters

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Management, safety cited for radiation release

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Gaga over gorillas? 2 babies arrive at Bronx Zoo

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Senate’s newest class speaks out on foreign policy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Tiny Pacific nation sues 9 nuclear-armed powers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Everest climbing season in disarray after deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Vatican: Pope’s private calls don’t reflect policy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Families of ferry’s lost confront SKorea officials

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Israel halts peace talks with Palestinians

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Ukraine moves against insurgents in the east

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Costa Rica is demanding US explain ‘Cuban Twitter’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
FDA eases into regulating e-cigarettes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

FDA OKs first-ever DNA alternative to Pap smear

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Postal workers’ unions protest Staples program

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

11 kids, driver hurt in Calif. school bus crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
.

Opinion

 
Editorial cartoons for April 25, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

Some diet news is tough to digest

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11

 
Has the militia movement re-emerged in American life?

By Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis | From Page: A11

 
Easily swayed voters on both sides

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 3 Comments

.

Living

Community Calendar: April 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History for April 25, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Horoscopes for April 25, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
How can I renew my friendship with Ellie without looking desperate?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview April 25-May 1, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Review: Walker memorable in gritty ‘Mansions’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Review: ‘Quiet Ones’ is more creaky than creepy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Entertainment calendar April 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

.

Sports

Donaldson, Kazmir lead A’s past Astros 10-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Solano sweeps all-BVC softball postseason awards

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7

Fishing: Bass Reapers to hold Berryessa tournament

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B7

 
Prep girls soccer: Vanden slips past AC for 3-2 SCAC victory

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B7

 
Prep baseball: Vanden’s LaGrand tosses shutout at Bethel

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B7

 
Clippers beat Warriors 98-96 for 2-1 series lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

LA Kings avoid elimination in 6-3 win over Sharks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
JC baseball: Solano’s late rally falls short in 6-5 loss to Marin

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Fairfield Expos announce schedule for 2014 season

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B8

 
Silver: Premature to say union will opt out of CBA

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Cal Poly baseball team is toast of the West Coast

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Michael Phelps loses to Lochte in comeback meet

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Northwestern players to cast historic union vote

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Pineda not only pitcher in majors to try pine tar

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Pineda banned 10 games for pine tar, won’t appeal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

 
.

Business

4Runner keeps rugged charm

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1

 
Audi’s RS 7 is answer to Porsche, Mercedes

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C2

US proposes pay-for-priority Internet standards

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Google, Apple settle high-tech workers’ lawsuit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Amazon launches grocery service for Prime members

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

Robert James Carty Sr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Jean Sophia Ruckdeschel

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Judith Catherine Brooks

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard Of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9