Shopping for organic food is an individual choice
for your growing family.
"For me personally, my top priority is making sure that my
family is eating the recommended five to nine servings of fruits
and vegetables per day whether it be from organic produce or not,"
says Elizabeth Zawila, a mother of two young children.
There's increasing concern about the safety of exposure to
synthetic pesticide residues, especially for pregnant women and
What has captured parents' attention is the emerging
research linking pesticide exposure to children's attention,
cognition and behavior, as well as sensory issues.
A clinical report published by the American Academy of
Pediatrics in November 2012 came out in favor of buying organic
produce and meat, but suggested you can skip the organic milk. The
report found there's little difference in the vitamin and mineral
content between organic and conventional foods.
The report does cite lower pesticides in organically grown
produce and a likely lower risk of exposure to drug-resistant
Switching to organic produce for five days reduced the
levels of pesticide residue in the urine of children accustomed to
eating conventional produce, one study cited found. "It remains
unclear whether such a reduction in exposure is clinically
relevant," the report states.
Organic milk is popular with parents due to concerns about
growth hormones and estrogen often given to conventionally raised
cows. The report concluded, "Ingestion of milk from
estrogen-treated cows appears to be safe for children."
Organics cost 10-40 percent more than conventionally grown
produce. Save money by choosing store brands, shopping at warehouse
clubs or buying in stores' bulk sections.
"Labeling a food as `organic' can give you a false sense
of security. Even organic snack foods can be just as high in sugar,
sodium, fat, as their nonorganic counterparts," reminds Zawila, a
registered dietitian who is a clinical nutrition specialist at the
University of Illinois Medical Center.
While the debate continues over which is healthier,
consider this: Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables in general
is the point.
If buying all organic isn't a priority or a financial
reality for you, consider taking a strategic approach. Insist on
organic versions of what retains the most pesticide residue such as
apples, grapes or celery. Skip it for produce with skins or peels
such as bananas, pineapples and onions.
Christine M. Palumbo, RD, is a nutritionist living in Naperville.
See more of Christine's stories here.
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