Potent, Pervasive and Pernicious


Part of getting and staying healthy is knowing about the toxins in your environment ... in the air you breathe, the foods you eat, and the stuff that contacts your skin.

I learned this lesson the HARD way more than once … the first time as a teen-ager.

But I didn’t really “get it”, so I had to re-learn it personally decades later … but that’s a topic for another time!

Back to today’s story …

As a child growing up on a Midwest family farm, I felt stuck – misplaced by some cruel twist of fate, when in fact it taught me life lessons for which I am eternally grateful.

There were good experiences … and bad. One of the most painful was losing my beloved “Granny” a month before heading off to college.

She was a strong, short and stocky German woman … a successful female farmer ... widowed twice ... tough as nails ... a doer, not a complainer.

At 84 years young, she was still able to start my homemade mini-bike when I couldn’t. With one hard pull on the crank, she got it going. No sweat.

There was a softer side to her too. She had me memorize her favorite poems, songs and hymns. Taught me how to crochet, cook and bake. I practically lived at her house.

While preparing for college, I noticed she had an unusual cough. My parents chalked it up to a “cold,” but it was Summer. Something deep down in me said “watch.” So I did.

A few weeks later, Granny came home with a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer and it had spread to her lungs.

Ten years before she beaten cancer, so I knew what all this meant.

I cherished every moment with her that last summer.

She went downhill fast. No medical heroics. Just comfort and lots of love.

Granny passed peacefully, but I was determined to figure out why she got cancer.

To this day, nearly forty years later, I believe her exposure to agricultural chemicals like glyphosate, a.k.a. Round Up, contributed to her cancer [Ref. 1].

She wasn’t my only relative that I suspect died too early because of these chemicals.

My uncle died of sarcoma, a soft tissue cancer. My dad from a weird blood clotting disorder. They were both in their early 60’s.

They thought they were tough guys. Turns out not so much.

For decades, they touched the agricultural chemicals with their bare hands … to unclog a crop sprayer nozzle or rinse out the sprayer ... often near my Granny’s well for drinking water.

I remember hollering at them for being so reckless.

I don’t recall much of any warning labels though.

About now you’re thinking, “I’m not a farmer, so what …???”

Do you eat grains, like wheat and oats, rice, beans and lentils, etc.?

You’re more at-risk than you think.

Agricultural chemicals like Round Up have been used in increasing amounts since the 1990’s.

The sad fact is your food may contain a double-dose of Round Up these days! [Ref. 2]


Round Up may be applied at both planting – to control weeds and then again at harvest time.

At harvest, Round Up is sprayed directly on crops like rice, beans, lentils and cereal grains to help dry them before harvesting … so they won’t rot in storage.

In the past farmers used big mechanical dryers to dry the crop after harvesting. My dad and uncle did this. Today it’s faster to dry in the fields before harvesting.

Eating organic has never been more important.

“Organic” means that the foods are raised with less chemical-intensive treatments … but it’s still no guarantee of chemical-free!

The good news is there are resources you can rely on to be informed.

The Environmental Working Group compiles a list annually of the cleanest – and dirtiest (most contaminated) fresh foods … the “Clean 15” and the “Dirty Dozen”.

Grab the list and take it with you the next time you’re in the grocery store.

You and your family’s health may depend on it.