Suggestions for Avoiding Roundup
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when we read about how pervasive Roundup is and how it damages our health. When things feel too big for me to handle, I remember a dear friend’s advice to just keep chipping away at it. Protecting ourselves and our families provides the motivation we’ll need to make continual small changes in what we eat. Here are some suggestions that have helped me avoid Roundup:
Eat organic foods when possible: The organic label is the only label that guarantees no herbicides or genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. That means no Roundup was used in either GE plants or in “drying down” other crops. Any “certified organic” meat, dairy or eggs cannot come from animals fed with food containing Roundup. When you know local farmers who grow food without herbicides, you’ll want to support them even if they’re not officially certified organic.
Avoid all GE foods: Even if GE foods haven’t been found to be intrinsically harmful, most GE crops are “Roundup Ready” and therefore contain Roundup. Unlike 64 other countries in the world, the United States does not require GE labeling on its food. Congress passed a bill in 2016 which required GE labeling, but since then the USDA’s only recommendations have been a bar label that can be read with smart phones or a deceptively smiling sunflower with a “BE” (“bioengineered’) on it. “Bioengineered” is not a common term for GE food. This attempt at deception means we consumers need to keep aware.
GE foods include soy, corn, canola, sorghum, sugar beets and potatoes.
Avoid non-GE food that may be dried down with Roundup: If not organic or from a farmer you know, it’s best to avoid all wheat, oats, canola, flax, peas, lentils, safflower, barley, rice, sunflower seeds and cane sugar.
Avoid processed foods: Over 90% of the food we Americans buy is processed, so this is indeed a tall order. But because most flour and sugar contain Roundup, we might begin by buying these ingredients as organic. I appreciate that even our rural grocery store now carries organic brands of both flour and sugar as well as other organic ingredients. If bread and cookies are part of the family’s fare, we can bake our own! Processed food is convenient, but it is not convenient to be ill.
Grow what food we can: As urban, suburban and country folks gain knowledge about the contents of corporate food, it may now seem feasible to grow more of our own food. Mother Earth News offers continuing tips how we can do this, no matter where we live. Those who haven’t yet begun may start with some tomatoes and basil plants around the house or in patio containers. Adding a raised bed for vegetables in the lawn may be the next step. If you lack the building skills and tools to build your own raised bed, speed this project along by buying a raised-bed kit. When increasing the size of your garden is taken in annual increments, your knowledge and pleasure will grow along with the amount of home-grown food on your dinner table.
When growing your own chemical-free food seems too overwhelming, having community support may be the answer. Groups like Food Not Lawns, an international chapter-based organization, can assist you with the knowledge, tools and community that may enrich your life with chemical-free food as well as community. Similarly, community gardens offer space for gardening, information and group support. Growing our own food can enrich our lives in many ways.
Consider having drinking water checked for glyphosate: I live in a rural area where the farmers use a large amount of Roundup. It’s tempting to just avoid drinking water from our relatively shallow, 55-foot well, but buying water in plastic containers is a poor option for our planet. It’s somewhat reassuring that our water is filtered through reverse osmosis because this method should provide good removal of glyphosate. Just to make sure, I had our drinking water tested and no glyphosate was found.
If you choose to have water, urine or breast milk tested, there are a few things you should know about what laboratory you choose. Furthermore, results aren’t always easy to interpret and acceptable levels of glyphosate in the United States are higher than in Europe. The bottom line is that regardless of results, we want to avoid ingesting Roundup using the methods I’ve listed above.
In conclusion: The corporate food system gradually elbowed its way into our kitchens by promising to make the “housewife’s” work easier. Perhaps we didn’t see how processed food would take over our dinner tables, or perhaps we trusted corporations to give our health priority over their profits. When we read about how damaging Roundup is to our health, we can feel either victimized or empowered. I believe I alternate between these feelings depending on my mood. But in gathering and sharing this information, I’m hoping we will all be better able to take back control of keeping ourselves healthy.
Mary Lou retired is a physician and now homesteads with her husband, Tom, south of Columbus, Ohio. Her book explaining how to grow your own food, Growing Local Food, can be bought through Carlisle Press at 800-852-4482.
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