Here’s What Happens When You Eat a 100% Organic Diet

Here's What Happens When You Eat 100 Percent Organic - Local Fresh Produce

By Carolanne Wright

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

No doubt about it, we’re living in an increasingly toxic world. From insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides to pollution from fossil fuels and nuclear plants, it’s becoming near impossible to dodge the toxic assault. The poisons are not only on agricultural fields, but also in our oceans, homes, schools, parks, forests, roads and playgrounds.

Even so, we can reduce exposure by paying attention to the food we eat and the water we drink. A perfect example of this is a family in Sweden who decided to take a 21-day all-organic diet challenge. The results may surprise you.

The modern era of cancer, ADHD and endocrine disruption

With the release of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring in 1962, the general public was made aware of the damaging effects of pesticides on human and environmental health.

Over fifty years later, we may not be in active contact with DDT as much as in Carson’s time, but exposure to equally harmful pesticides has increased exponentially.

According to Toxics Action Center:

“Chronic health effects may occur years after even minimal exposure to pesticides in the environment, or result from the pesticide residues which we ingest through our food and water. A July 2007 study conducted by researchers at the Public Health Institute, the California Department of Health Services, and the UC Berkeley School of Public Health found a sixfold increase in risk factor for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) for children of women who were exposed to organochlorine pesticides.”

Moreover, scientists from the University of Montreal and Harvard University found that ingestion of pesticide residues on produce may double a child’s risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a syndrome that causes disruptive inattention, abnormally active behavior and impulsivity.

And studies by the National Cancer Institute discovered that American farmers, who are known for their liberal use of agricultural pesticides, have a high incidence of Hodgkins disease, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, leukemia, as well as other types of cancer.

Nowhere to hide

Pesticides are now found everywhere, from our food and soil, to water and even human breast milk. The toxins are associated with a spectrum of health disorders, including:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Cancer
  • Reproductive harm
  • Developmental delays
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)
  • Birth defects
  • Impaired brain development

Environmental consequences

Not only do pesticides wreak havoc on human health, they also destroy the environment. The toxins damage agricultural land by harming beneficial insects, soil microorganisms and worms — all of which contribute to healthy soil and naturally limit detrimental pests. Plant root and immune systems are also negatively impacted by pesticides, as are concentrations of important nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous.

A personal solution to the issue of pesticides

Despite what our governmental regulatory agencies would have us believe, chemical pesticides simply are not safe — at any level. Until we can establish sustainable, organic farming practices and pest control across the board, it’s up to us to limit exposure to the toxins as best we can. An excellent place to begin is with a completely organic diet. A Swedish family has done just that by participating in a three-week trial of switching from conventional food to fully organic.

The Palmbergs normally subscribe to a non-organic diet, simply because they feel organic food is much too expensive. But when the Swedish grocery chain Coop decided to enlist a family into The Organic Effect experiment, they decided to give it a try.

For the first week, the family ate their standard non-organic meals, and provided urine samples each day to establish a baseline of toxicity. Independent lab test performed by the Swedish Environmental Research Institute found that eight of the chosen 12 pesticides were in their systems. This included a number of insecticides, fungicides and plant growth regulators.

Next, the Palmbergs adopted a 100% organic diet for the remaining two weeks. Urine samples were again taken daily. Incredibly — within just a few days — almost all the pesticides were completely gone from their systems.

But it isn’t just Coop that’s interested in the effects of an organic diet, research published in Environmental Research found that a single week of eating mostly organic food reduced pesticide levels by nearly 90% in Australian adults. Likewise, this study study evaluated 4,466 participants and had similar findings.

All in all, it pays to embrace a 100% organic diet in terms of the environment and our health. As Mark DeNicola stresses in the article, This Is What Happens To Your Body When You Switch To Organic Food:

“Living in a world dominated by affordability and convenience, far too many of us are casting aside what we know to be beneficial for our health. This is not only helping to create the first generation of children who will not outlive their parents, but is also keeping organic produce at its higher price point.

“The more we collectively demand to eat organic, the closer we come to a world where organically grown produce once again becomes the norm and the standard. In that world, more attention would be placed on finding ways to grow and produce organics more efficiently, hopefully making it more affordable in the process.”

The Organic Effect

Article sources:

Previous articles by Carolanne:

About the author:

Carolanne WrightCarolanne enthusiastically believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef and wellness coach, Carolanne has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of organic living, gratefulness and joyful orientation for over 13 years

Through her website she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people from around the world who share a similar vision. Follow Carolanne on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


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  • Jeff

    Being a fearmonger sure is lucrative these days, but I’d like to point something out–organic farmers use pesticides, too. I’m glad you’re getting paid to spread misinformation though, I’m sure your family is very proud of you. But organic farmers use chemicals all the time, and the government doesn’t regulate that usage in many cases, so who knows how much or little of those chemicals are getting into your precious organic kale? So-called “organic” farming is no better or worse than traditional farming, per se, but it definitely isn’t better, it’s roughly the same. In many cases it’s worse, because organic farming methods require far more input of resources to produce a far lesser output of crops, which is very bad for the environment, so that’s another common myth you need to consider. When feeding your family, it’s fine to make healthy decisions, but you need to read the facts before you write an opinion article such as this. Because this is all your opinion; you’re making pesticides out to be so evil for our health, but I guarantee the food you eat has been liberally sprayed with more chemicals than you can count, regardless of where you buy it from, and you’ll never guarantee otherwise unless you grow the food yourself.

    • ThriveLiving

      The article above was based on research testing for specific pesticides. There are links to both studies within the article, as well as in the sources section.

      Yes, industrial organic food production can be problematic (and seemingly hypocritical). Most industrial organic farms are owned by massive conglomerates that are only interested in profit. One way around this is to really get to know your local farmers and their farming practices. I will often choose non-certified produce from farmers that I trust. Biodynamic and permaculture farming are two of the safest methods. Growing your own fruits and vegetables is another option.

      A couple of interesting comments from the Scientific American blog post:

      By Heteromeles:

      It’s hard to write an article like this and not come across as an industry shill. This certainly wasn’t long enough to give a proper overview of the subject.

      I agree that factory organic farms aren’t as good as fully organic ones, but when we get into issues of DDT and methyl bromide on conventional lands, that’s where you really need to start mythbusting. Yes, some low-pesticide/IPM regimes are better than factory organic, but when you (as a shopper) get a choice between “organic” and “conventional” (often from Mexico), there’s inadequate data to sort out which is better. At least with organic US peppers, I don’t have to worry about DDT.

      Note also that where I live, organic is three times more expensive primarily when you’re buying something out of season. In season, the costs are much more equivalent. The lesson here is to not buy peppers in January.

      As for genetic engineering, I dislike it because the ecologists have not gotten involved in the design phase, and most genetic engineering seems to be about pesticide resistance. Is it a good idea that farmers are dumping massive quantities of glyphosphate on their roundup ready crops? Probably not. I recently tried to find a definitive answer to how safe glyphosphate was, and there is none. It certainly causes birth defects in some cases and death to aquatic life in others, but the industry is also fighting hard to spin it as harmless in all cases. That’s not good.

      A bigger problem, though, is that when you introduce herbicide resistance genes into crops (such as wheat, sorghum, and rape/canola) the resistance genes readily go out into their weedy relatives at the edge of the field. Even when this does not happen, massive use of pesticides is simply speeding the evolution of pesticide resistant pests. As with Prohibition and arguably the war on drugs, the petrochemical war on pests will eventually be won by the pests. That’s why smart farmers, whatever their organic label, try to control pests by cultural practices, and to use pesticides in as precise a fashion as possible.

      Another example of bad genetic engineering is of someone who, like you, wanted to make food better in the developing world. Their goal was to get the cyanide out of sorghum. Sorghum, when stressed, can produce cyanide, and subclinical cyanide poisoning from eating sorghum is a problem in the Sahel, especially in children. Some kindly researcher created a cyanide-free sorghum to help these kids. What happened when they planted it? The grasshoppers ate the entire crop. Getting the natural insecticides out of plants is a bad maneuver, especially if your customers can’t replace those natural defenses with pesticides. With sorghum, finding ways to grow it so that it doesn’t get stressed is the primary way to keep it cyanide-free.

      A blog is too brief to be accurate on such a complex subject. This article is, in my opinion, misleading in its choice of examples, and counter-examples abound, as I noted here. While I agree with the general point that the organic label can be misleading, as another ecologist, I’d say this article provides more heat than light on the subject.

      And this one from KevinEMcCluney:

      You make some good points, especially about eating from a local farm where you know the farmer, however, I think there are a few things you have not considered and thus have perpetuated a few myths yourself.

      Myth #1: Organic foods use so many pesticides that they do not make a difference in the health of consumers. In fact, one recent study has shown a significant difference in the organophosphate pesticide content of the urine of children who did, or did not eat organic foods ( Another study, found that higher organophosphate content of urine was associated with an increased incidence of ADHD ( No, these are not controlled, randomized trials, but I think it is sufficient evidence to be cautious about making the health claim that you do here.

      Myth #2: Conventional and organic farms have the same distribution of effects on biodiversity and important ecosystem functions. Although you make a point that many organic farms use ecologically destructive practices, you have not convinced me that organic farms, as a whole, are equally ecologically destructive to conventional farms, as a whole. It should not be surprising that we can find examples of destructive and benign farming practices in both organic and conventional agriculture. What matters to me is whether or not the distribution of farming practices differs. I have not found a study that exactly answers that question, but this is the best I have found:

      Myth #3: Organic farming produces low yields and this makes it harder to feed the world. A recent study has not found lower yields using organic practices in all regions of the world:

      Notably, developing countries can gain higher yields with organic than conventional practices, exactly the places with the most malnourished people. According to this study, organic practices could feed the world on the same amount of land. Additionally, the difficulty in feeding the world is not currently due to the amount of food production, but in getting that food to the people who need it. Another thing to note is the many organic farms produce multiple products from the same land and so yields of single crops can be misleading. Also, from an input-efficiency perspective, many organic farms may win out in terms of yields.

      {CW: On your last point – that study has been ripped apart for poor methodology, which is why I didn’t mention it in the post. See the published response by Alex Avery titled “Organic abundance report: fatally flawed”: ]

      • Able_Magwitch

        “Most industrial organic farms are owned by massive conglomerates that are only interested in profit.”
        OH MY HEAVENS! Interested in profit? They must be evil!
        Seriously, it doesn’t take long for true colors to come out when reading about stuff like this.

  • ThriveLiving

    Reduction in urinary organophosphate pesticide metabolites in adults after a week-long organic diet

    Liza Oatesa, Marc Cohena, Lesley Braunb, Adrian Schembric, Rilka Taskovad


    •Organophosphate pesticide exposure in Australian adults is mainly through the diet.•One week of eating mostly organic food reduced urine pesticide levels by nearly 90%.•The clinical relevance of reducing pesticide exposure requires further study.•Eating organic food is a precautionary approach to reduce pesticide exposure.



    Conventional food production commonly uses organophosphate (OP) pesticides, which can have negative health effects, while organic food is deemed healthier because it is produced without these pesticides. Studies suggest that organic food consumption may significantly reduce OP pesticide exposure in children who have relatively higher pesticide exposure than adults due to their different diets, body weight, behaviour and less efficient metabolism.


    A prospective, randomised, crossover study was conducted to determine if an organic food diet reduces organophosphate exposure in adults.


    Thirteen participants were randomly allocated to consume a diet of at least 80% organic or conventional food for 7 days and then crossed over to the alternate diet. Urinary levels of six dialkylphosphate metabolites were analysed in first-morning voids collected on day 8 of each phase using GC–MS/MS with detection limits of 0.11–0.51 ?g/L.


    The mean total DAP results in the organic phase were 89% lower than in the conventional phase (M=0.032 [SD=0.038] and 0.294 [SD=0.435] respectively, p=0.013). For total dimethyl DAPs there was a 96% reduction (M=0.011 [SD=0.023] and 0.252 [SD=0.403] respectively, p=0.005). Mean total diethyl DAP levels in the organic phase were half those of the conventional phase (M=0.021 [SD=0.020] and 0.042 [SD=0.038] respectively), yet the wide variability and small sample size meant the difference was not statistically significant.


    The consumption of an organic diet for one week significantly reduced OP pesticide exposure in adults. Larger scale studies in different populations are required to confirm these findings and investigate their clinical relevance.

    The above found in the “Article Sources” section.

    And another, also found in the “Article Sources.”

    Estimating Pesticide Exposure from Dietary Intake and Organic Food Choices: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)


    Background: Organophosphate pesticide (OP) exposure to the US population is dominated by dietary intake. The magnitude of exposure from diet depends partly upon personal decisions such as which foods to eat and whether to choose organic food.

    Most studies of OP exposure rely on urinary biomarkers, which are limited by short half-lives and often lack specificity to parent compounds. A reliable means of estimating long-term dietary exposure to individual OPs is needed to assess the potential relationship with adverse health effects.

    Objectives: We assessed long-term dietary exposure to 14 OPs among 4,466 participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, and examined the influence of organic produce consumption on this exposure.

    Methods: Individual-level exposure was estimated by combining information on typical intake of specific food items with average OP residue levels on those items. In an analysis restricted to a subset of participants who reported rarely or never eating organic produce (“conventional consumers”), we assessed urinary dialkylphosphate (DAP) levels across tertiles of estimated exposure (n=480). In a second analysis, we compared DAP levels across subgroups with differing self-reported organic produce consumption habits (n=240).

    Results: Among conventional consumers, increasing tertile of estimated dietary OP exposure was associated with higher DAP concentrations (p<0.05). DAP concentrations were also significantly lower in groups reporting more frequent consumption of organic produce (p<0.02).

    Conclusions: Long-term dietary exposure to OPs were estimated from dietary intake data, and estimates were consistent with DAP measurements. More frequent consumption of organic produce was associated with lower DAPs.

  • ThriveLiving

    Or give away the extras like the “Food is Free Project.” =)