I’m careful to buy hormone-free milk and meats when I can afford them. But a friend recently mentioned that farms are using growth hormones on fruit and vegetables. Should I be concerned?

Your friend is partially right: Some large industrial farms do use hormones or growth accelerators to speed ripening and increase yields of fruit and vegetables-especially out-of-season produce. While the health implications are not yet well established there’s some evidence that certain chemicals may cause stomach pain, nausea, cramping and fatigue. To keep your diet free of these hormones, it’s best to buy frozen or canned when selecting out-of-season produce. And since the use of hormones is more prevalent in China and India (which have fewer agricultural regulations), I suggest opting for U.S. suppliers, like Cascadian Farm and Earthbound Farm, when possible.

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