There’s nothing quite like that first cup of coffee in the morning. Even when you have plenty of sleep and you don’t necessarily need the caffeine, it still feels pretty invigorating. Perhaps you enjoy something a little lighter though, like tea. Or who could forget the perennial classic, orange juice. We all have a favorite morning beverage. For some of us who are always on the go, that breakfast beverage may even be our only substitute for a full meal.
Unfortunately, some of the most widely consumed beverages contain some very toxic chemicals. Over the years, pretty much our entire food supply has been contaminated with industrial pesticides and GMOs, and almost nothing has been spared. Below are a few beverages you might want to buy organic, or nix altogether:
Coffee beans tend to be grown in countries that have very relaxed regulations on pesticide use, and is one of the most heavily sprayed foods in the world. During the process of cultivation, as much as 250 lbs of pesticides per acre are applied to the crop. Also, if you happen to enjoy decaffeinated coffee, you might be in for a really toxic cocktail. The process of removing the caffeine from the coffee beans usually involves dipping them in various solvents, and the chemicals involved have changed multiple times over the years due to their safety and toxicity issues. Considering how much coffee some people drink, I can’t imagine what this is doing to their health.
Despite being sold in the U.S. many teas contain levels of pesticides above our legal limit. While different teas often have some amazing health benefits, the leaves themselves are not washed before they are packaged, leaving large amounts of pesticide residue behind. Many of the commercial teas are also loaded with artificial sweeteners and GMO’s, and the bags containing the tea leaves are often made of corn derived materials and plastics. Of course, plastics should never be heated as the chemicals will easily break down into your drink.
While chocolate probably contains fewer chemicals than coffee or tea, it’s known to carry trace amounts of the pesticide lindane, which studies have shown can cause neurological and reproductive harm in animals. While Cocoa is traditionally grown in a very bio-diverse environment, recent years have seen the crop grown in monoculture to increase yields. This technique requires far more pesticides than traditional methods, and farm workers are usually poorly trained and protected in the use of chemicals. Like the previous entries on this list, when you buy organic you aren’t just improving your health, but the health of the workers who grow your food.
A couple of years ago the illegal pesticide known as carbendazim was found in oranges shipped from Brazil and Canada. The chemical is known to cause eye, liver, and brain damage (despite being banned for this reason, the government claimed the oranges were safe for consumption. Go figure). Another factor to consider with orange juice is the process it goes through before reaching the stores.
It’s a little known fact that orange juice bought throughout most of the year may have spent months sitting in large storage containers (which likely degrades the nutritional value of the juice). Companies like Tropicana, Minute Maid, and Simply Orange, which are all owned by Coke and Pepsi by the way, go through a peculiar process with the oranges. First the oxygen is removed from the juice so it can be stored for a longer period. This destroys the flavor of the juice though, so these companies then hire fragrance engineers that normally work for Dior and Calvin Klein, to create flavor packs. These packs contain the essential oils of the orange, albeit in a form that was never as nature intended. If you like genuine orange juice, it may be a good idea to squeeze it yourself from fresh oranges.
While tomatoes by themselves are wonderful and healthy, tomato juice may be a bit problematic since they’re usually packaged in plastic or cans. The acidic nature of tomatoes tends to leach Bisphenol-A into the food. To avoid this you can get your juice out of jars rather than cans. Plus, canned tomatoes are more likely to be non-organic, so they may carry a whole host of pesticides with them.
In conclusion, it’s unfortunate we have to meticulously inspect and research every food item that enters our homes, but it simply comes with the territory of living in a modern society. It’s all worth the effort though. The only thing better than that first cup of coffee in the morning, is the knowledge that it won’t kill you slowly.