August: Pesticides

Photo: Flowers in SE Portland.

Photo: Flowers in SE Portland.

Take a walk through any neighborhood in Portland and you will see how serious we are about gardening. This month’s blog focuses on the health effects of common pesticides and offers tips to minimize your exposure to these harmful chemicals. 


Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the herbicide and desiccant known as Roundup, made by the company Monsanto. Since 2015, the WHO has considered glyphosate to be “probably carcinogenic” to humans. 

Health Effects of Glyphosate

  • Blocks detoxification pathways in the liver, causing a buildup of glutamate (a neurotoxin) and impaired detoxification

  • Chelates important minerals (iron, cobalt, zinc, manganese) leading to deficiencies

  • Impairs healthy bone production and maintenance, contributing to osteopenia/osteoporosis 

  • Replaces glycine in connective tissue, leading to impaired collagen structure and chronic pain 

  • Kills beneficial gut bacteria (1)

  • Pro-inflammatory and may shift immune function towards autoimmunity 

Dr. Gilles Eric-Seralini, a French microbiologist who is a political activist against GMO crops, states that the inactive ingredients in Roundup can be more than one thousand times as toxic as glyphosate. (2) 

Stephanie Seneff, a senior researcher at MIT who researches glyphosate, has proposed a correlation between glyphosate and medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, hypertension, asthma, diabetes, obesity, COPD, infertility, and others. (3) 

Glyphosate continues to be found in grains, soy, corn, and produce. In 2018, harmful levels of glyphosate were found in Cheerios, which is often one of the first foods given to babies. (4) 

In 2018, a groundskeeper developed cancer after years of daily glyphosate exposure. He was recently awarded $78 million dollars after filing a lawsuit against Monsanto. Read about his story here.

Organic Food

To avoid glyphosate exposure, follow a gluten-free, organic, whole foods-based diet as much as possible. Each year, the Environmental Working Group releases their list of the “Dirty Dozen” produce, containing the highest levels of pesticides. The “Dirty Dozen” are produce whose skin is usually consumed and should always be organic. The “Clean Fifteen” are fruits and veggies have the least amount of pesticides and often have a thick or inedible skin, where eating conventional is okay. 

2019 Dirty Dozen: ALWAYS buy organic

  • Strawberries

  • Spinach

  • Kale

  • Nectarines

  • Apples

  • Grapes

  • Peaches

  • Cherries

  • Pears

  • Tomatoes

  • Celery

  • Potatoes

2019 Clean Fifteen: Non-organic okay 

  • Avocados

  • Sweet corn

  • Pineapples

  • Sweet peas (frozen)

  • Onions

  • Papayas

  • Eggplants

  • Asparagus

  • Kiwis

  • Cabbage

  • Cauliflower

  • Cantaloupe

  • Broccoli

  • Mushrooms

  • Honeydew


If you consume animal products, quality is extremely important. Factory-farmed meat should be strictly avoided as it is laden with pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and other toxins. Look for pastured chickens and grass-fed, pastured organic beef, lamb, and pork products. Dairy products should be organic and from grass-fed cows, goats, and/or sheep. 


Community-Sourced Agriculture (CSA) are programs that directly connect farmers and consumers and are a great way to get organic, locally-sourced produce. The Portland area has many certified organic CSAs - click here for more information. 

If you are interested in learning more, please speak with your provider about ways to support glyphosate detoxification. 


  1. Hill, A. “Gastrointestinal Infections.” Community Compounding Conference. Portland, OR. May 11, 2019.

  2. Ingels, D. The Lyme Solution. Penguin, 2019. 

  3. Canahan, J. “Glyphosate is Being Inserted into Your Proteins - By Mistake.” July 22, 2019


Kat Bodden