You’re in the produce section, weighing the cost of organic apples and carrots vs. the cheaper traditionally grown granny smiths and Idaho spuds. Which would your pediatrician tell you to buy? Whichever your family budget allows, according to the just released policy statement on Organic Foods from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
For the first time, the nation’s top children’s docs are dipping their toes into the organic debate, and, like the research released by Stanford University in September, they’ve concluded that there are no real nutritional benefits to buying organic, but there are plenty of other good reasons to do so if you can afford it. And for many families, that’s a big IF. “What’s most important is that children eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products, whether those are conventional or organic foods,” says Janet Silverstein, M.D., a member of the AAP committee on nutrition and one of the lead authors of the report. “Many families have a limited food budget and we do not want families to choose to consume smaller amounts of more expensive organic foods and reduce their overall intake of healthy foods like produce.”
There is, however, convincing evidence that organic foods reduce exposure to pesticides, which may offer significant benefits to children whose brains and bodies are still developing. In addition, organically raised animals have not been subjected to the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics, which means that they are less likely to be contaminated with drug resistant bacteria that may be passed on through their meat, contributing to the rapidly growing issue of antibiotic resistance today.
Those are substantial benefits as far as many parents and experts are concerned. So while there is still no scientific evidence that eating organic will improve a child’s health over their lifetime, there is an argument to be made that it makes sense to buy organic when you can swing it. Fortunately, there is a lot of research indicating which foods have higher pesticide residues, and which are relatively clean. According to the Environmental Working Group, the best foods to buy organic are what they call “The Dirty Dozen Plus”: 12 foods with the most pesticide residue plus two more which carry pesticide residue of special concern. These are:
Sweet bell peppers
For more help on where to spend your green on well, green foods, check out our article on Which Organic Foods Are Worth It.
Do you buy organic? Leave a comment.