Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why eat organic? Some compelling reasons

For several years now I've tried to buy organic food for my husband and I.  Funny, for me I'm often not motivated by my own health.  I did it primarily for two reasons:

1) To reduce contaminants introduced into the environment (such as when produce is sprayed with pesticides)

2) To ensure humane treatment of the animals I was obtaining my dairy from (and meat, when I bought for hubby)

Then the little one came along, and suddenly my motivation became threefold - now that HER health was at stake, I revisited my shopping list with a vengeance.  There were things I had ALWAYS bought organic (milk, eggs, meat) to make me feel okay about eating it, and things I often slipped on (beans, peppers) because, hey, a LITTLE pesticides won't hurt us, and they are much cheaper...  No more, not for my little sweet pea, uh uh.  Now my grocery list included a large portion of organic items (and a bill to reflect that - ugh!).  But, it is very important to me to only give her the best, so we suck it up.  Why should you care?  Well, here are a few reasons, taken from Dr. Jenn Berman’s book Superbaby:

A report by the Environmental Working Group found that some apples are so toxic that one bite taken by a child under the age of five can deliver an unsafe dose of organophosphate insecticides. 

There are currently 600 chemicals that farmers are legally allowed to use on produce and at least fifty of these are classified as carcinogenic, according to the FDA. 

Twenty pounds of pesticides are used per person per year in the U.S. 

Pesticides are present not only in conventionally grown fruits and vegetables but also in processed products like cookies, cereals and crackers. 

Nine out of ten kids under the age of five are exposed to thirteen different neurotoxic insecticides in baby foods, according to the EWG. 

Organophosphates in apple, peach, grape and pear baby food that is consumed by 85,000 children every day exceed the federal safety standard by a factor of ten or more. 

Twenty million children age five and under consume an average of eight pesticides per day. 

Drinking nonorganic apple juice may expose your two year old to as many as eighty different pesticides, an exposure that is twenty times that of his mother on a body-weight basis.

Scary stuff huh?  So what can you do about it?  Good news: By feeding your kids an organic diet, you eliminate nearly 90% of their pesticide exposure.  Consider this:

“A University of Washington study that was funded by the EPA measured the pesticide levels in the urine of 23 children before and after switching to an organic diet.  Prior to the switch, every single child tested showed the presence of pesticides, but after only five straight days on an organic diet, researchers found that pesticide levels were undetectable.  They remained that way until the children returned to eating conventionally grown foods.”

Wow – you can make a difference by changing your diet!  For me that was a no-brainer.  Of course, any change you make makes a difference, even if it's switching from regular to organic milk and nothing else!  One change a week, a month - slowly switching over doesn't seem quite as drastic, and before you know it, you're whole family will be healthier!

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