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Enjoying a Meal

Food & Hormones

We are what we eat…The old adage has never been more true. A wide variety of whole, unprocessed, uncontaminated, nutrient-dense organic foods is the key to health and vitality. These foods support the immune system, combat disease and provide energy.

Unfortunately, such foods are scarce in a food production system where giant industrial farms produce monocultures of genetically engineered crops and livestock, apply bio-solids, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and inject animals with hormones to make them grow bigger and faster.

There is very strong evidence that some of these chemicals in our food supply are interfering with our bodies’ fragile endocrine systems, even at levels of exposure far below government guidelines. The endocrine system consists of glands that produce hormones that act together to guide development, growth, reproduction, immunity, normal organ function and behavior.

Chemicals can disrupt this complicated and vital system by acting as pseudo-hormones, altering hormone levels, interfering with the body’s ability to produce its own hormones, and causing long-term effects in offspring born to mothers who are exposed during pregnancy.

Fast Facts

  • Our industrialized food supply uses many different chemicals to produce large amounts of cheap food, but some of those chemicals are disrupting our own biological systems.


  • Some chemicals mimic our own hormones, or interfere with our normal hormone production.


  • Exposure to hormones, even at levels far below government guidelines, can have profound and life-long effects.

Food is not our only source of hormones, of course. Suspected endocrine-disrupting chemicals are also found in pesticides, cleaning products, detergents, personal care products and chemicals used in the manufacture of plastics. Most of them are fat-soluble, meaning that they do not move through the body but are stored in body fat. These chemicals are passed from mother to child through the placenta and in breast milk.

Because so many of the suspected hormone-disruptors are used extensively in food production, manufacturing and industrial processes and thus play an important role in our economy, linking them to serious environmental or human health problems creates a great deal of controversy. Pressure from industry has prevented the government from taking action to remove these chemicals from the market. 

Things you can do:


As with all potentially harmful chemicals found in consumer products, taking precautions to reduce exposure is best.

Be a smart shopper: read labels, and choose items with the least number of ingredients (preferably single-ingredient foods such as apples, potatoes, chicken). Seek out farmers’ markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs and support retail outlets that sell locally grown, organic foods.

When you purchase produce in a grocery store, use the number codes to identify those that are not genetically modified or grown with synthetic chemicals.

• A 4-digit sticker indicates that the item is conventionally grown, not organic. 
• A 5-digit sticker beginning with a 9 indicates that the produce is organic 
• A 5-digit sticker beginning with an 8 indicates the produce is a genetically modified fruit or vegetable!

Food Label Graphic3.png
Food and Hormones Resources
Print Material
Web Resources 

Related Pages 

Related Websites
  • Helping To Heal - This program is based on the book of the same name by Patti Wood that was written for the parents of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. It is designed to help parents become active partners in their child’s healing process by providing guidance on optimal nutrition and helping them create a healthy, toxin-free home environment.

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