Toxic chemicals are one of the biggest health threats to our children, and while safety standards have become more strict, buying organic may be your best protection. Children whose mothers are exposed to common agricultural pesticides are more likely to experience a range of harmful effects to their cognitive development. The health effects of these chemicals may go undetected for years, and organic products limit this exposure. As parents we all want to protect, and provide the best for our children, having all the facts will help you make the best informed decision for your family.
So what does Organic mean?
Organic foods are grown with fewer pesticides & herbicides than conventional food. In the United States, there are four different levels for organic labeling:
- ‘100%’ Organic: This means that all ingredients are produced organically. It also may have the USDA seal.
- ‘Organic’: At least 95% or more of the ingredients are organic.
- ’Made With Organic Ingredients’: Contains at least 70% organic ingredients.
- ‘Less Than 70% Organic Ingredients’: Three of the organic ingredients must be listed under the ingredient section of the label. In the US, the food label “natural” or “all natural” does not mean that the food was produced and processed organically.
Organic refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. It includes a system of production, processing, distribution and sales that assures consumers that the products maintain the organic integrity that begins on the farm. Because U.S. national organic standards are in place, this means that these practices are regulated and verifiable. Organic is the most heavily regulated and closely monitored system in the U.S.
Why you should feed your baby Organic:
- Babies eat more food, pound per pound than adults, exposing them to significantly higher levels of chemicals.
- They are developing organs to last a lifetime. Due to their smaller size, fast-growing speedy metabolisms, and less varied diets, infants and children are more vulnerable to health and developmental damage.
- Babies that eat organic meat, produce, and milk are exposed to lower levels or insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilizers, growth hormones and antibiotics which wreak havoc on a baby’s immune system, organs, and hormones, because they are synthetic.
- Organic produce cannot be forced to ripen (conventional produce is treated with a hormone called Ethylene) and is at the market at the peak of freshness and nutritional value.
How can I choose the best food?
Every year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases 2 lists.
Dirty Dozen™ List– contains produce with the highest pesticide loads, and suggests that you always buy these organic:
- apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes
The Clean Fifteen™ list- contains produce least likely to hold pesticide residue,low total concentrations of pesticides were detected on these foods:
- avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes..
Some simple ways to enjoy organic food for less:
- Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season.
- Check out local farm stands and farmers markets
- Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
- Plant your own garden
- Choose Organic versions of the products that you buy most
The fact is pesticides are getting into kids’ bodies from food. Some research suggests, organic food can lower that pesticide load, and quickly. Researchers found this out when 23 kids swapped their conventionally grown food for organic versions for five days. When the kids ate only organic fruits, veggies, juice, pasta, cereal and salsa, the levels of several organophosphate pesticides in their bodies plummeted (as measured by urine analysis), scientists reported in 2006 in Environmental Health Perspectives. Just five days of organic food reduced the pesticide load in these kids. “Such protection is dramatic and immediate,” the authors wrote.
We have an opportunity to protect our most precious resource, our children, by offering them healthy food from the beginning. Organic products can help us raise healthy strong children and reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals. Eating organic as a family teaches your children to feel good about their choices. They have an impact on the world around them, and can create a healthy and safe planet for many generations to come. The value for you and your family will far outweigh the cost.
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