Is Organic Better For Children?
Parents today are often bombarded with conflicting messages concerning nutrition and what to feed their children. One particularly heated discussion centres around whether or not organic foods are worth the cost. The truth is choosing organic food is one of the best choices you can make for your children.
Our conventional food system today is heavily dependent on toxic chemicals that pose threats to our health. There are over 6,000 food additives and chemicals used to grow, produce, and package our food. Children are exposed to the same chemical toxins as adults, however they are more vulnerable to these toxins as their bodies are still growing and developing. While limiting children’s exposure to toxins in the environment is much more difficult, we can limit their exposure in the food they eat by choosing an organic diet.
Numerous studies warn about the health risks from both acute and chronic exposure to chemicals. Chemicals used in non-organic farming have been known to cause cancer, disrupt hormones, and lower IQ among other concerns. Unborn babies are particularly vulnerable to these chemicals.
Choosing organic foods means lower pesticide residue and associated risks. Organic foods are produced without GMO’s whose safety has yet to be determined, and is banned or requires labeling in more than 60 countries. Organic meat and dairy are found to have a healthier fat profile with higher amounts of healthy omega 3 fatty acids. It also means your children are not getting the hormones and daily doses of antibiotics given to factory farmed livestock to speed up growth and alter reproductive cycles.
In Canada, organic foods are regulated and scrutinized by government organic standards and regulations. They place strict limits on the use of pesticides, drugs, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, GMO’s and irradiation. It forbids the use of artificial flavours, artificial colours, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives. It is important to know that Organic is so much more than just avoiding chemicals. It is also about rotating crops, respecting biodiversity, building healthy soil, and treating animals well. Look for the Canada Organic logo on the food you buy to ensure the national standards are being followed and know that you are making one of the best choices for the health of your children.
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Bellinger, David. 2012. “A Strategy for Comparing the Contributions of Environmental Chemicals and Other Risk Factors to Neurodevelopment of Children,” Environmental Health Perspectives (Vol. 20 (4): pages 501-507).
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Bouchard, M.E., et al., “Prenatal Exposure to OP Pesticides and IQ in 7-Year Old Children,” Environmental Health Perspectives, online April 21, 2011
Lu, C. et al., 2006. “Organic Diets Significantly Lower Children’s Dietary Exposure to Organophosphorus Pesticides,” Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 114 (2): pages 260-263.
Swallow This: Serving Up The Food Industry’s Darkest Secrets, by Joanna Blythman. Fourth Estate, 2015