(As originally featured in the digital version of the Spring / Summer 2023 Issue of Tracy Anderson Magazine)
Biocides and Their Costs
Pesticides are toxic poisons intended to kill life. Yet over a billion pounds of pesticides are sprayed in the U.S. each year. Industrial agriculture and its monoculture production heavily rely on these chemical additives to work. But that societal bargain comes with massive costs to health, nature, climate, and future generations. We call pesticides—and their subcategories of herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides—Biocides, a more accurate term coined by Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring and mother of the environmental movement. These toxins are the offspring of chemical weapons, like the pesticide 2,4-D, which was one-half of the infamous Vietnam-era “Agent Orange” that poisoned millions. Yet we now spray 2,4-D on corn, soy, and cotton.
And the costs of this shortsighted choice? The stark reality is that pesticides are killing bees and other pollinators, poisoning our water, and are woven into our clothing, even children’s toys and cosmetics.
In terms of health, biocides cause cancer, reproduction impacts, neurological and developmental damage, skin burns, gastrointestinal distress, respiratory damage, endocrine disruption, and death. Long-term and occupational exposures greatly increase the risk of developing a fatal illness such as lymphoma cancer.
In terms of nature, biocides pollute our soils, air, and water. They are a major driver of the current ecological extinction crisis. To give just one example, bees pollinate one in every three foods we eat, yet bees are being driven to extinction by a class of biocides called neonicotinoids. Indeed, nearly all species—plants, birds, insects, fish, mammals–protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act are threatened by pesticides.
It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way: How to Self-Express
But it is darkest just before first light. The answers are not to be found in cutting-edge technology, they lie in ancient wisdom: when we harm nature, we harm ourselves. Our highest expression is alignment with nature. As humans, we are not observing nature: we are nature. We thrive best when moving in its rhythm and cycles. Ayurveda, which means “knowledge of life,” is ancient wisdom applied to create each person’s seasonal and dietary lifestyle guidance, including cleansing of our body’s toxins. When we eat fresh, seasonal, and pesticide-free, we accomplish wonderful things: We diversify our gut microbiome; we take in the powerful, nutritive energy from the sun; we get the most from food, hydration, and nutrition.
There are many steps we can take in daily life to protect our health and the wellbeing of nature.
Eat consciously: Opt out of pesticide-polluting agriculture, food, and cosmetics. Instead, buy certified organic (which prohibits pesticides). Shop at your local farmers’ market. Get to know where your food comes from, and make a personal connection to the people who grow your food.
Grow it yourself: Plant a garden, even if it’s only a single plant (tomatoes or herbs on your windowsill). Consider regenerative gardening, or gardening in a way that returns nutrients to the soil. Use green kitchen compost, a marvelous addition to soil’s nutrition. Farm with variety, as this green diversity creates vibrancy and resiliency. Harvesting and eating strong, healthy plants with robust immune systems will fortify you with purposeful strength.
Be in nature: Take a walk, move your body. Go barefoot, connect to the soil. Savor the sounds, smell the flowers. Practice gratitude and appreciation.
Be an Advocate: We won’t build a pesticide-free food future through personal choices alone. Join the Revolution: Many are fighting against those who poison our bodies and our planet in order to protect you, your family, farmworkers, and endangered species. Support them, donate, volunteer. Together, we can build a better future for our food