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Why Organic Foods For Our Kids?

by Kasia Hopewell, ND

Our children have to endure the highest body burden of pesticides in the US population, mainly because they eat more food per body weight and tend to eat those foods that are highest in pesticide contamination. The amount of pesticides consumed by our children is typically not enough to cause immediate harm, but research is showing that it may be enough to cause disruption in the development of their body and brain at critical times of growth. Research in animals has shown that in the developing bodies of young animals even ultra-low doses of pesticides (those amounts regularly experienced by people consuming commercially grown foods) can cause disruptions in organ development and hormone function that often only appear later in life.

All this potential for harm to our children’s developing bodies and minds is a relatively modern issue and is growing as more and more of the food delivered to our supermarkets is contaminated with an increasing number of pesticides. This could explain why the sale of organic foods has continued to increase, as more and more research showing harm from even low doses of pesticides is published. One study published in the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives showed that when switched to a mostly organic diet, the pesticide load in children dropped to undetectable levels, but rebounded to prior, measurable levels when the diet was switched back to a non-organic diet. Other research indicates that organic diets may result in higher intelligence scores, better physical performance, better sleep patterns (yes! better sleep), stronger immune systems, and slimmer bodies.

Not only are organic foods significantly lower in pesticide residues, they also deliver better nutrition to your kids. Many studies are showing that organic foods contain more nutritional quality per calorie, thereby increasing the level of vitamins, mineral and antioxidants in every bite of food your child eats (a plus for children who are picky eaters!).

Eating an all-organic diet is not really practical, not to mention cost prohibitive for budget shoppers. However, this is slowly changing as the demand for cleaner food rises. Even large supermarkets are starting to carry more organic foods. If cost is the biggest issue keeping you from purchasing organic foods, try some of these cost saving tips:

• Buy locally and in season – check out your Farmer’s Market (look for organic farmers) or grow them yourself;

• Buy the store’s label which tend to be cheaper – even major supermarkets are starting to carry some organic foods with their label (i.e. Safeway);

• Animal foods (meat, poultry, eggs, dairy) and fats and oils are probably better to buy organic as they contain fats that may contain some of the worst forms of pesticides. In addition, organic animal products are produced without antibiotics or growth hormones which pose greater potential for body development disruption;

• Prioritize your produce and eat a variety. Use the lists produced by the Environmental Working Group to prioritize the food most important to buy organic and those that are low in pesticide residues and less important to buy organic. To find this list, go to http://www.foodnews.org.

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