Updated: Jan 26, 2021
Have you heard of Parkinson's Alley?
Parkinson's Alley is a farming area in the Central Valley of California were nearly 50% of the produce consumed in America is grown.
Neurologists have named the area of Central Valley farm towns between Bakersfield and Sacramento “Parkinson's Alley”. The study published in 2011 by Dr. Beate Ritz, of University of California, Los Angeles, found that Central Valley residents under age 60 who lived near fields where the pesticides paraquat and maneb had been used between 1974 and 1999 had a Parkinson's rate nearly five times higher than other residents in the region.
Pause for a minute and let that register. The area in the country where nearly 50% of our produce is grown has nearly five times higher rate of Parkinson's disease!
This research linking pesticides and Parkinson's began back in 2000, when Ritz began comparing mortality records with pesticide-application reports. She discovered that California counties reporting the highest pesticide use also had the highest rates for Parkinson's-related deaths. She reviewed pesticide and agricultural information from 1989 to 1994, and found that when insecticides were applied to more than a third of a county's acreage, the risk of its residents' dying from Parkinson's disease increased 2.5-fold. A more detailed discussion of her research can be found here.
I want to empower you here with information to help you be a more discerning consumer. Paying close attention not only to what you eat but how and where it is grown may be one of the most important pieces of advice I can give you. You are what you eat! That old adage is true. This information can be alarming because it's not only pesticides that are contributing to these health issues. Many factors in our current food supply are impacting our health: antibiotics used in animal feed, manure with antibiotics used as fertilizers and glyphosate (roundup) sprayed on crops are all part of the constant assault on a healthy microbiome that is essential to our health.
What can you do to take action:
Buy organic whenever possible, at least focus on the dirty dozen and making sure you look for organic.
Educate yourself on the differences between conventional and organic growing methods. Here is a good Help Guide
Find a local Community Support Agriculture (CSA) where you can speak with the farmer and ask questions about how the food is grown and what chemicals, if any are used.
When eating out, look for restaurants that provide organic options or are willing to provide you with information about their food suppliers so you can make an informed choice from the menu.
Write Congress and ask them what they are doing to address toxic pesticide and antibiotic exposure in our food supply.
Become a conscious consumer, evaluate carefully what you consume. And remember You Are What YOU EAT!