Insecticides in Your Food

Insecticides are a form of pesticides, used to kill bugs and their eggs to control pest problems. These products are used in medicine, agriculture, industrial applications, and households all across the globe. The use of insecticides is thought to be a major factor which contributed to the rapid rise in agricultural production over the last 200 years. Using insecticides helps to boost crop production by preserving produce, preventing insect infestation and controlling the population of exotic species, but there is a dark side: almost any kind of insecticide carries the possibility to considerably modify ecosystems, numerous are known to be toxic to people, and many are concentrated in the food chain.


How Did They Get There?

Every year, around 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides are used in the United States with over 20,000 pesticide products on the U.S. market, according to the CDC. Insecticides get into your food by the process of which the food is grown and treated. Farmers treat their crops with pesticides in order to mass grow plants without having to closely monitor their stock for infestation. Many foods are also treated with insecticides during transportation to keep bugs from destroying the produce – this enables suppliers to deliver to food retailers from further away without regard to how much time the produce spends at risk of bug infestation.


Dangers of Insecticides in Food

Most people think that if their produce was grown with the use of chemicals it can be made safe by cleaning – that is far from the reality. When insecticides are used on plants, they can actually get into the produce itself – meaning the parts you eat. The outside skin can be washed, but once the chemicals have made their way inside the food, there is no getting them out. Even after washing thoroughly, insecticides can still make their way into our bodies where they stay for years. According to the EPA, insecticides can be very harmful, even carcinogenic, to the human body.

What You Can Do About It

In more recent years, a very distinct line has been drawn between those who choose to use insecticides in farming and those who refuse. While the mass amount of produce and processed food has been raised using insecticides, there are more chemical free alternatives now than years past. The most trusted label in chemical free food is organic – find out about organic standards of the USDA on their website.

Additionally, there are other options for insecticides in your own garden that offer safer alternatives:

  • Organic Insecticides – organic insecticide compounds are the most available type of pesticides available. These insecticides are made of synthetic materials – although they are organic, do not automatically assume that they are all safe, check the labels and abide by advisory and take necessary precautions.
  • Natural Insecticides – these are types of insecticides that come from the earth and have natural insect repellent or elimination abilities. Certain products like nicotine are popular for use but are also banned in some areas. Some growers plant bug averting plants amongst crops, such as onions or garlic, to keep the bugs away.

Are you aware of what’s in your food?

 What steps are you taking to avoid pesticides?


SimplyLili is a PhD student in Social Psychology and an avid blogger. Her main goal is to bring awareness to issues that warrant social responsibility and action. She is a self-proclaimed nerd and her 3 fave things are cheesecake, rainy days, and pugs. "Knowledge-Simply"

One thought on “Insecticides in Your Food

  • February 5, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    I am surprised that you did not mention the use of natural pathogens of insects, such as “BT” and others which can be commercially raised and administered like an insecticide. Like any disease organism, these take some amount of time and do not result in instantaneous death to the insect.


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