Tuesday, October 30, 2012

To Eat or Not to Eat: Organic foods to Avoid Pesticides

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently gathered to discuss the hot topic of feeding children organic versus conventionally produced foods. Therefore, the question stands, "is it worth spending the extra 10-40% on food to buy organically?" The AAP agrees that organic foods and non organically produced foods are both nutritionally beneficial; although, it is a fact that organic foods can reduce a child's exposure to pesticides. So again, we beg the questions, "is it worth the extra money?"

If buying organic means that less produce and healthy food choices will be purchased, then regular produce is advised. Secondly, some foods have a higher level of pesticides than others and therefore should make the organic priority list. Those foods with higher pesticide levels include apples, celery, cucumbers, sweet bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, kale, blueberries, potatoes, and green beans. These are all fruits and vegetables that tend to not be peeled or grown in the ground.

Believe it or not, apples are ranked #1 for having the highest amount of pesticide on fruit! The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a list of the “cleanest and dirtiest” fruits and veggies. You may review this list at http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/.

Although organic produce is grown without the use of pesticides, for the rest of us, washing and scrubbing your fruits and veggies with a brush will greatly reduce the amount of pesticides left. It will not get them all off. We recommend that you remove the peels of fruits like apples and oranges before giving them to your kids since the outer layer is subjected to the heaviest exposure of chemicals. Remove the outer layers of leafy vegetables since those have had the most exposure.

 Yes, it would be wonderful if everything we put into our mouths was pesticide free and without preservatives and chemicals. But even if we could achieve that we are still exposed daily to chemicals and pesticides. Our neighbors have the lawn service spraying fertilizer on their grass. Our cars emit carbon monoxide. We spray DEET on our clothes and body during mosquito season. It’s just part of life. So don’t go overboard worrying about pesticides on food but be aware of it and limit it like all other chemicals as much as possible.

The most important message to remember is, eating a healthy diet is the main priority, the second most important message is all foods need to be eaten in moderation.

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