Was Spidermans web quite like this?

The Human body is an amazing machine of muscle chains and Fascia slings.  This article is going to talk briefly about Myofascial sling systems in the body and how they effect movement and performance if restrictions occur.  Fascia is a seamless web of connective tissue that covers and connects the muscles, organs, and skeleton.  Injuries, stress, inflammation, trauma, and poor posture can cause restriction to fascia.  Within this web, if there are restrictions or tightness then this may spread to other areas of the body.  There are several sling systems in the body but due to length, this article will only touch briefly on The Superficial Back line (SBL) & Superficial Front line (SFL).  Anatomy Trains by Thomas W. Myers explains the SBL as the entire posterior surface and the SFL as connecting the entire anterior surface of the body. 

Fascia restrictions may affect everyday activity or sport performance in many ways:  –  Limited flexion at the ankle for a hockey player is one cause for inadequate stride position/length while skating.  –  Long distance runners may tend to increase tightness through the SFL leading to “rounded forward” looking posture.  –  A golfer may lose power/distance in a shot if they lack a proper follow through due to tightness in several fascia slings.  –  Patella tracking at the knee may be affected as well with fascia restrictions.

Something as simple as massaging the bottom of your feet may reduce fascia restrictions and increase mobility through the Superficial back line.  Getting educated and actively involved in releasing the Fascia slings in the body may help increase sport performance & overall general fitness and health.  One way is to visit a Massage therapist.   Massage therapy can also decrease healing time and promote healthy tissue.  Carla Buchanan, RMT of Northend Spine & Sports sees great success with clients by improving circulation and managing pain through Massage.  Carla recommends that if you have not experienced Massage Therapy, then maybe you are missing the one key to your success for pain free function of the body.

As published in The Morning Star April 2008

Athletic Conditioning

Athletes looking to increase their sport performance often look to a structured training program.  It is important for success and injury prevention to follow a sound program that takes the athlete through proper progression levels and reduces dysfunction.  The problem with most athletic conditioning programs is they seem to fall under one umbrella.  Most are generic programs that are given to entire teams to follow through specific seasons.  This can be easy for the program maker but misses the mark for the athlete.  Most athletes tend to have similar dysfunctions somewhere throughout the kinetic chain.    For the most part, these dysfunctions do not get assessed and are not taken seriously.  There are too many cookie cutter programs and unqualified people/parents training their children when they should be stepping away and letting qualified professionals take over. 

For the most part, people aren’t aware that what they are following may not be the best suited program for them selves. 

Scouts and coaches are looking for stronger, faster and more powerful athletes.  Yes, this is important but what is being forgotten is HOW that athlete gets there!  If they become more powerful is it at the expense of proper form and progression?  Does specific testing of these athletes really transfer to their sport?  Are they learning from their training in such a way to reduce dysfunction and gain the above benefits at the same time!?

Most of the time, no!  Then, through the years the injuries occur!

 Take a look at specifics.  Does your training program take the following into consideration:

 A properly phased plyometric program.  Training for power with plyometrics can take you into a 3 phase plan.  It’s not just about jumping over a hurdle or onto a box.  Linear days and lateral days should be separated.  Two feet and single leg progressions should also be followed.  Learning to transfer and absorb force through a quality power program will create a faster athlete and reduce injuries.

CNS (central nervous system) recovery.   More is not better!  If you are including a dry-land portion of your program plus a strength program limit your lower body training in the gym to twice per week.

Sprints/cardio portion:  Long, slow and steady cardio should not be the majority of your training.  Many athletes such as soccer & hockey still get treated as long distance runners.  Work with different intervals that are unpredictable and a fluctuating tempo. 

Create a strong back!  Work on more pulling motions.  So many athletes spend too much time pressing (bench press, dumbbell press)  A strong back helps to create a strong & more stable athlete and reduces injuries.

With dry-land training you need to understand what a proper athletic ready position is.  Force angles into the ground create explosiveness and reduce deceleration injuries.  This needs to be taught and not taken lightly.

Strengthening and flexibility that includes all planes of motion.  Take a look at human movement and sport.  We move our body and stretch in different planes.  We reach, step, jump and place our body in positions in our sport that cannot be ignored.

What are the professionals saying? Rhonda Catt asked several of her clients:

Steve Kelly, who has spent many years at the NHL and European level has seen training change over the years.  Heavy lifts and long runs were the norm!  “The game of hockey has changed to quicker more agile players than it was 10 years ago.  Explosiveness and quickness is a priority” One thing he wishes he would have paid more attention to in his earlier career is mobility & flexibility.  Steve encourages parents to not push too much at a younger age!  Let your child have fun!

Chris Osgood, Detroit Red Wings has also seen a huge change in training since his NHL career started.  Lifting heavy and long runs were also the focus of programming.  Training now incorporates mobility and flexibility in all planes of motion with an emphasis on the Power Center (hips/core). 

 Eric Godard, Pittsburgh Penguins credits injury prevention to a sound training program.

Being able to compete at your best each game is only possible by training smart!  Eric also reminds kids to have fun.  If you hate the training your passion for the game will drop.

 Andrew Ference, Boston Bruins

Andrew points out that so much ability can be lost with overtraining.  “Athletes who train twice a day or 7 days per week will completely burn out.  Young kids really need guidance so they can learn what “smart” workouts really are and how often to be doing them.  A great point for athletes is to get a better understanding of good fuel for your body as this gives you an edge on everyone!!” 

 If you are serious about your sport get serious about your training!

If you have any questions regarding this article please contact cattconditioning@yahoo.com

If today was your last day!?

This time of year brings excitement to many.  The thought of making changes in health and lifestyle are started with a big bang and are quickly turned into just another resolution.  Stop making the resolutions and start thinking about your lifestyle.  What steps can you take to make & keep positive changes? 

This article is going to ask some questions that will hopefully make a change in the way you treat your body.

Sit down with a pen and paper and answer honestly.  Leaving family and friends out of the total picture, ask yourself:

If today was your last day…would you look at your lifestyle and be proud of how you treated your body?

If today was your last day…. would you regret any health choices you made?

If today was your last day… would you look at fitness in a totally different light?

Are you proud of the steps you have taken in regards to health, fitness and longevity?

There is no one that can make these changes for you.  We have the ability to create the most powerful, healthiest and strongest body possible.  Yet this seems impossible for many people.  We have one human body and no second chances.  Life is meant to live!  Yes, aches and pains may be signs of serious problems but they are also wake up calls for many!  They are not reasons to stop moving… to stop walking or stop playing sports!  Find out WHY!  Why does inactivity seem to be OK?  It’s not OK to ignore the most powerful machine you have!  The human body!

 Would you give your best friend heart disease or elevated cholesterol? 

Would you give your best friend cancer? 

Obviously not so why is it ok to give yourself an increased risk of disease by an inactive lifestyle & unhealthy nutrition choices?  You have the ability to make the most amazing change within your body but only you are in charge of your results and success.  Realize that it is a lifestyle that you must lead everyday!  This lifestyle will have moments and days of weakness but don’t dwell, begin again immediately not the next day or next week!  You say “oh well” and move on that exact minute!   Whatever your goal is; losing weight, increasing strength, endurance, sport performance or disease prevention it is the choices you make daily for the rest of your life that make & repeat success!

Everyday life becomes so much easier with a healthy body and mind.  The ability to play a sport or toboggan with your children or the ease of loading/unloading groceries or enjoying a full day skiing or snowboarding without stopping all the time, shouldn’t that be a goal?  Get outside, join a gym or training program or support group and stop waiting for the easy way out!  You must do the work and stick with it for the rest of your life.  It’s not something that you stop and start over again every year hoping that this year will be the year!  Start fueling your body with organic, clean eating and refuse process foods.  Do not wait for a major health scare or important event to change your lifestyle.  Enjoy the little bit of effort now so you don’t feel like you have to put in so much in the future when a time clock is ticking.  Soon it becomes a way of life and you won’t feel you need to struggle to make a healthy food choice or finish your next workout.  You just do it because you love the feeling of being healthy.  You can’t wait for the challenge of your next workout or game!  It’s not will-power, its determination!  What are you waiting for?

Rhonda Catt

BCRPA Certified personal trainer / Sport performance specialist


Organ donation anyone??!!

Just finished a great Christmas Spin class!  Great clients, great fun!!!  So motivating as a Personal Trainer when you have amazing clients who enjoy every minute of their workout!  Staying healthy is so important!  It makes you realize that there are so many people in the world that, for some reason or another, they need a little help!  So, I finally sealed the envelope for being an organ donor.  I have always agreed to be an organ donor but never registered.  I thought the little sticker on my care card was enough.  I’m sure many people don’t think about being an organ donor or are scared to do so!  Well, think about it… sorry to tell you but you are dead so if that is the case why the hell not help someone else who isn’t!  If there is a healthy organ that can help another individual live a full life … WHY NOT!  Why throw out good food… why throw out a good organ!  You don’t need it anymore!

If you are not registered as an organ donor, take the time to do so!  You may end up needing one someday or even a loved one!

How the gym could be making you fat!

Top 10 reasons why joining a gym could be sabotaging your goals and making you fat!

The Health and Fitness industry is a funny thing. It is an industry built on taking advantage of peoples’ emotions! It is also an industry that has the most confusion for everyone involved.

It is great to see people joining Fitness facilities and having great intentions of staying healthy but for most it is short lived!
They look the same as the day they bought their gym membership! Does this sound like you? Have you achieved your goals? Have you lost weight or inches? Are you still fat? Could you be skinny fat?

Most people walk through the door with no real goals in mind or no proper guidance. A basic gym orientation is what they start with and they think this is the road to health, happiness and success. Think again!

Most individuals get blinded by the equipment, aren’t too sure how to use them but telling others that they belong to a gym makes them feel like they are doing the best they can for their body…. Really??

It’s also funny to hear people talk about how much equipment their gym has and that they have used the latest and greatest contraption that is sure to get them to where they want in regards to fat loss….. “It’s in a gym so I can’t lose… right????”

Well, this is about to burst your bubble! You could be keeping the fat you are trying hard to get rid of and you may be de-conditioning yourself every time you walk into the gym!

Now, let me clarify that joining a gym for a true fitness beginner is a great decision. It can be a great way to gain a fitness base and to start a fitness habit but that may be short lived!


The following 10 points are what most people fight with month after month! These reasons are actually in no particular order because they are all equally important. You may be sabotaging you goals by following many of these points. As a Personal Trainer, I actually could keep going on reasons why people just don’t change once they are in a gym setting but that is another article!

1) Spending most of your time on cardio machines

You are guaranteed to find most women in the gym hopping on cardio machine. They spend the majority of their workout running on a treadmill, elliptical machine or other. Keeping a pace that is a little bit uncomfortable but they are able to keep going for 40 to 60 minutes or longer. You utilize more calories and fat doing higher intensity training instead of long, slow, steady-state cardio. Unless you plan on running a marathon or long distance run…. Step away from the long and slow and start to shorten the duration but work harder!

2) Never breaking a sweat during training

A lot of individuals leave the gym looking exactly like they did when they walked in. A slight sweat may have occurred but staying in their comfort zone doesn’t allow them to break a good sweat and by that I mean a total body sweat! This goes for both cardio and strength training! And stop reading and leaning on the cardio machines… you might as well just pack it up and go home! Why are you at the gym anyways? To read and rest or to show yourself what you are made of in regards to training hard but training smart?

3) Spending time on single joint movements

Yes, this is important for many people. If you are in a post-rehab setting. Or, if you have to establish a movement pattern within a muscle. After that is established it is time to move on! Sitting on a bench doing a single arm bicep curl is a great way to catch up on the gossip and the latest gym fashion trends but getting a metabolic boost will NOT happen! If you are a bodybuilder… fine…. If not, don’t think this type of training is going to get you anywhere!

4) Training with higher reps and lighter weights

Women are so famous for this! They are so scared to lift heavier resistance because they may get big and bulky and that would look just too darn funny! GET OVER IT! It is almost genetically impossible for most women to gain huge muscle and besides, if it was… do you think you would go to sleep one evening looking normal and wake up looking like the hulk with no previous notice! GET REAL! Gaining strength should be a priority for injury prevention, reducing the risk of certain types of disease, fat loss and improvement of everyday life and sport performance.

5) Working out on an empty stomach

You need to fuel the most important machine you have! You may think you are working hard but if you gave yourself some healthy fuel at an appropriate time and an appropriate amount before you train you could actually work harder and utilize more fat and calories. Ignore that stupid fitness myths that keep telling you to workout on an empty stomach!

6) Never changing your program

Can you say BORING! Who the heck wants to train if they keep doing the same thing month after month, year after year? If you are bored how do you think your body feels? It isn’t stupid… it will give you only the energy you need to perform that task and NO MORE. The “no more” energy is what gets results! And don’t think doing the same group fitness classes is any better!

7) Spending too much time in a gym

Are you one of those people that need two hours to workout? Enough already! If you are training appropriately there is NO WAY you can last for two hours! You are talking too much and training too little! An efficient training program will have a higher intensity and be a shorter duration. Stop breaking up your training. “Today is a back and bicep day and tomorrow I’ll do Chest and Triceps”…. OMG!….SMACK! Old style bodybuilding programs need to be thrown out the window if that is NOT your goal!

8) Not following a healthy nutrition plan

Joining a gym does not give you a veto card to eat junk and stuff your face with empty calories and crappy food! You need to eat clean, unprocessed food 80-90% of the time. You will see no results from training if you eat like crap! Do not follow the path that “just because I worked out today, I deserve that cookie”. NO YOU DON’T! You deserve to be proud of yourself for training hard but training smart and keeping that junk food to a minimum! Sugar is the devil and crap food gives you nothing but disease and a lot of “I wish… I want….. If only I could”. This type of attitude keeps the cycle of not achieving going full circle!
Also, most fitness facilities offer Protein or meal replacement shakes. “Big arm man” most likely purchases one before or after his workout and “Susie” tends to buy a meal replacement shake after her workout instead of eating real food. First, most of these shakes contain almost or most of your daily caloric intake! Also, you may feel like you are hungry again and want to eat which means more calories than what you probably need in that day. Stick to real food and plan out your meals in advance. Now, if you have absolutely no food with you and won’t eat for several hours after your workout than incorporate a shake or bar or Chocolate milk but realize this is only a backup plan and should not be a daily workout occurrence. Liquid calories will not satisfy you like eating real, unprocessed food will!

9) Not hiring a personal trainer to establish a set routine

Joining a gym and thinking you know what you are doing by reading a fitness magazine is NOT the way to reach your goals! Or, if you have worked out for 10 years already and think you know more than a health professional (those people drive me crazy!) so why should you spend money on a trainer??! Hiring a professional in any industry is important for success and education! The more educated you get the closer you are to your goals! The problem in the fitness industry is a lot of information out there is crap or specific on goals, injuries and health history so it may not apply to you! And yes, a lot of Personal trainers are crap so you need to get educated! Hiring a qualified PT for your goals can help open your eyes to more than what you see in a gym and more than just the equipment!

10) Spending all your time on weight machines

Again, once you have established a fitness base GET OFF MACHINES! The human body doesn’t function in a stable environment so why would you train in one? We turn, bend, lift, press, pull and more! We are unstable and in funny positions, weak positions and in different stances all day long. I’m not saying you have to look funny when you train but incorporating full body movements and requiring the core to work through exercises is much more functional and will burn more calories than sitting your butt on a machine all the time! Show me a woman who does push ups and pull-ups and I’ll show you a STRONG WOMAN! Put a metabolic demand on your body and stop putting it to sleep!

Stop training to be “GYM STRONG” and start training SMART! Get educated and get results! What are you waiting for?

It’s because you are lazy!

I started a blog


Well, I guess I started this blog because I was tired of all the ego stroking when it comes to fitness. People need to know how to get healthy and stay healthy and know that it is THEIR choices that makes or breaks success. It’s about time people stopped looking for the quick fixes and took a look at their lifestyle! How do they fuel their body? How much do they move in the day? What activities do they enjoy enough to keep them healthy? I find it totally odd that so many people will take care of possessions with so much passion but they will not take care of their human body!!!??? What the hell is up with that? It will come to an end but why the hell would you want to suffer through aches or pains or being pissed off at yourself because you can’t lose the weight you want to lose. Why you can’t stick with the next quick fix?? Because it’s your lifestyle you need to change FOREVER! Decide to enjoy every day with a healthy mind and body and stop treating it like a piece of crap!

I really do like Oprah. She has done amazing things! So many self help products, books and specific topics have seriously helped millions of people. I really think the lazy aspect is missing though! Being hard-nosed and telling people who really need to be told the truth that they are lazy!….. should also be shouted to her million of viewers! I think that is The Secret to so many problems but there is always another excuse being searched for! It’s simple! It’s because you’re lazy!
Health should be a priority. It would save millions on health care and make for a better world all around! Keep yourself healthy and you keep yourself happy!

L-A-U-G-H your way to fitness!

You would think that with all the science and technology that fat loss would be so easy for so many people. Why does it seem to be so frustrating? Being involved in the fitness industry brings tons of frustration for myself! I can’t tell you how much crap I read, see or hear so how is the average individual supposed to know what’s correct?

Make is simple! Stop letting yourself get confused when you read the best way to lose fat or a great new workout routine. Or, a fabulous new diet in a magazine that promises you’ll lose 20 pounds in two months!
Fat loss is simple! It’s nothing new! Eat smaller portions with healthy choices! More fruit and vegetables and move your body! I know you have heard it before but you are the only one that can make changes.

What are you doing to move your body? What type of fitness program are you following? Most people I see in the gym are following the same program with no results! They are scared to increase intensity because it’s uncomfortable. Well, it’s time to get uncomfortable! Increasing your intensity and shortening your duration will increase fat loss! Slow and steady does not win the fat loss race! Full body movements that utilize tons of energy and as many muscles as possible. Drop the 5lbs bicep curls ladies and start lifting some serious weight! Get strong and powerful by lifting more challenging weight. Stop worrying about getting big and bulky muscles because it’s not going to happen!

When your nutrition is 80-90% proper choices you will lose weight. Don’t tell me you eat healthy and can’t lose weight, if this is your answer you are NOT eating healthy! It’s time to get real about nutrition and fitness and stop making excuses.

Think about the following from CATT Conditioning & since I love to laugh, this works well:

L – Learn! Learn as much as you can about health, fitness & nutrition. Arm yourself with education and you will succeed!

A – Attitude! Your attitude will make or break results! Stop dwelling on the bad choices and start NOW with healthy choices. You are your success!

U – Understand! If you do not understand the education you are gaining you will never understand WHY you cannot achieve your results!

G – Get Active! Sitting on your butt does nothing for health and fitness … period!

H – Hunger! When are you hungry? Why are you hungry? What are you hungry for? Control your hunger! Are you bored? Is it really time to fuel your body?

Stop the New Year Resolution!

Has the arrival of 2010 made you start a New Year resolution or encouraged you to start your previous fitness program again?   Like most individuals this becomes a January phenomenon but quickly subsides because of a lack of clear vision, goals and willingness to pay the price to achieve it!  I have chosen to point out several important health & fitness tips within this article to help you succeed in your goals. 

 The Fat burning zone is a myth. 

Higher intensity workouts equal increased fat and calorie usage overall and will help you get more done in less time!  Anyone can adapt their workout to suit this goal & their current fitness level.  More is not better!  Stop the long, steady-state cardio! 

 Recovery is crucial for fitness success.

Playing & practicing your sport 5 days per week with another 5 days per week workouts with NOT make you a better player!  If you are looking for injuries and burnout then you are on the right track!  If you are a coach or parent who breathes this vision then you need to evaluate yourself!  Or, if you are a fitness enthusiast who trains 6 days a week and never alters your intensity level or what you do please search help from a qualified professional in the fitness industry that specializes in your specific goal.

 Train smart especially during your off-season

Many individuals think starting a fitness program 2 weeks before their sporting event will help increase success.  You need to train in the off-season to prepare your body for your sport of choice.  Training should be modified and intensity reduced as you enter your season.

 Stop lifting fluffy weights!

Most women believe that lifting heavy weights will make them big and bulky!  If you want to get lean and reduce body fat you need to use appropriate resistance.  Genetics will determine how your body transforms and you will be able to make changes along the way with your program as your body adapts.  You will not wake up one morning shocked and looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger!  The majority of females do not have the hormonal makeup to get big and bulky… unless you are taking steroids! 

 Training through pain

No pain no gain… WRONG!  Fatigue, discomfort and “muscle burn” are a part of working out but pain isn’t!  If you are feeling pain, referred pain or joint instability please contact a Physiotherapist.  Not taking action can cause future injuries and possibly stop your workout routine in its tracks!

 Eating whatever you want

This is not the way to achieve results.  You will be more successful in losing weight, body fat and inches with healthy, clean eating and smaller but fewer meals throughout the day.  A structured fitness program does not give you clearance to eat garbage!  If you are working out and not seeing the results you want to see then you are lying to yourself… you are eating junk!… plain and simple.  Write it down, evaluate and figure out a healthy eating game plan!

If it’s not a Lifestyle… you will NOT succeed!

This is the most important point!  You MUST make fitness a lifestyle!  Eating healthy and exercise is something you must do every day!  It is not a quick fix or an 8 week program!  Stop looking for the quick fix and the shortest route to achieve your goals.  The only way you will maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight loss and stick with it is to make it a lifestyle!  Do something healthy and eat clean, unprocessed food every day!

What not to eat!

The 7 foods experts won’t eat

This article was originally posted on Yahoo.  I cannot remember who wrote it but I loved it and thought it was a great tid bit to add!

How healthy (or not) certain foods are—for us, for the environment—is a hotly debated topic among experts and consumers alike, and there are no easy answers. But when Prevention talked to the people at the forefront of food safety and asked them one simple question—“What foods do you avoid?”—we got some pretty interesting answers. Although these foods don’t necessarily make up a “banned” list, as you head into the holidays—and all the grocery shopping that comes with it—their answers are, well, food for thought:

 1. Canned Tomatoes

The expert: Fredrick vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A

The problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people’s body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. “You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that’s a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young,” says vom Saal. “I won’t go near canned tomatoes.”

The solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joe’s and Pomi.


2. Corn-Fed Beef

The expert: Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of half a dozen books on sustainable farming

The problem: Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. More money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. “We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure,” says Salatin.

The solution: Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at specialty grocers, farmers’ markets, and nationally at Whole Foods. It’s usually labeled because it demands a premium, but if you don’t see it, ask your butcher.

 3. Microwave Popcorn

The expert: Olga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group,

The problem: Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize—and migrate into your popcorn. “They stay in your body for years and accumulate there,” says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then.

The solution: Pop natural kernels the old-fashioned way: in a skillet. For flavorings, you can add real butter or dried seasonings, such as dillweed, vegetable flakes, or soup mix.

 4. Nonorganic Potatoes

The expert: Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board

The problem: Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes—the nation’s most popular vegetable—they’re treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they’re dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. “Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won’t,” says Moyer, who is also farm director of the Rodale Institute (also owned by Rodale Inc., the publisher of Prevention). “I’ve talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals.”

The solution: Buy organic potatoes. Washing isn’t good enough if you’re trying to remove chemicals that have been absorbed into the flesh.

 5. Farmed Salmon

The expert: David Carpenter, MD, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany and publisher of a major study in the journal Science on contamination in fish.

The problem: Nature didn’t intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. According to Carpenter, the most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus. “You can only safely eat one of these salmon dinners every 5 months without increasing your risk of cancer,” says Carpenter, whose 2004 fish contamination study got broad media attention. “It’s that bad.” Preliminary science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity, but some nutritionists believe the benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks. There is also concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get dosed with the same drugs and chemicals.

The solution: Switch to wild-caught Alaska salmon. If the package says fresh Atlantic, it’s farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon.

 6. Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones

The expert: Rick North, project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO of the Oregon division of the American Cancer Society

The problem: Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers. “When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1 from milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract,” says North. As it turns out, the casein in milk protects most of it, according to several independent studies. “There’s not 100% proof that this is increasing cancer in humans,” admits North. “However, it’s banned in most industrialized countries.”

The solution: Check labels for rBGH-free, rBST-free, produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk. These phrases indicate rBGH-free products.
7. Conventional Apples

The expert: Mark Kastel, former executive for agribusiness and codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group that supports organic foods

The problem: If fall fruits held a “most doused in pesticides contest,” apples would win. Why? They are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. As such, apples don’t develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful. But Kastel counters that it’s just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples. “Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers,” he says. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides (from all sources) with Parkinson’s disease.

The solution: Buy organic apples. If you can’t afford organic, be sure to wash and peel them first.