Organic peppers

Surprising news for organic food lovers in the recent issue of the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology: a University of Washington study found high levels of plastic in the bodies of people who refrained from eating food that had been packaged in plastic containers.

The small study focused on families who only ate local and organic food that was prepared carefully to avoid any plastic, which can contain harmful chemicals including BPA (bisphenol-A) and phhalates, both hormone disruptors connected with reproductive issues, obesity and diabetes.

The study broke families into two groups: those advised on the risks of plastic chemicals and those who were given organic foods and beverages both prepared and stored without plastic. According to the study author, Sheela Sathyanarayana, MD, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics at UW, the detectable levels of plastic chemicals even rose in the bodies of the people strictly avoiding the substance, suggesting that the food itself is now a source for plastic chemicals.

Urine samples from the family members that were expected to decrease from avoiding the plastic had phthalate levels rise 2,400 percent higher than at the beginning of the study, with the highest levels being found in children. The alarming rise in chemicals prompted the researchers to go back and look at the ingredients fed to the organic group. They were able to identify two culprits: high-fat dairy products and organic coriander as being contaminated with the chemicals. But, the researchers noted, the benefits of consuming organic foods far outweighs the risk of chemical exposure.

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