The AAP weighs in on the organic food debate
You’re in the produce section, weighing the cost of organic apples vs. the cheaper, traditionally grown Granny Smiths. If only your pediatrician could come along on a grocery run and help you figure out if it’s worth the extra money. Now he or she can—sort of—thanks to a new 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 they’ve concluded that there are no real nutritional benefits to buying organic, but there are other good reasons to do so if you can afford it. 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 them 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 eating organic foods reduces exposure to pesticides, and experts unanimously agree that avoiding pesticides as much as possible is best for the still developing brains of children. In addition, organically raised animals have not been subjected to the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics, which makes them less likely to carry drug-resistant bacteria.
What you need to know: Serving your child conventionally raised foods is still fine, but if you can swing the cost, organic foods, especially some forms of produce, will help minimize pesticide exposure. Parents do not need to buck up for organic meat or organic milk, however, Dr. Silverstein notes. The AAP research team did not find that pesticides or hormones get into milk in significant quantities, and by thoroughly cooking meat and poultry, you’ll kill any potential bacteria.