Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Organic Produce: Does It Matter?

In case you haven't been able to tell, I'm a fairly big advocate for healthy food.  My kids eat whole-grain bread and brown rice and natural peanut butter without complaint.  They know not to ask for things like Kool-Aid at the grocery store.  Fruits and vegetables are a large part of their diet.  But for all my interest in healthy eating, I haven't made one crucial switch:  I haven't started buying organic.

I'm starting to rethink this one. 

A new study released yesterday links pesticide exposure to ADHD in children, and while I question our national obsession with labeling kids with these kinds of "disorders," I can't argue with the study's finding that 94% of children tested showed compounds from pesticides in their urine.  And it's hard to keep telling myself that buying organic isn't really that important when a 2008 study proved that, when children switch to organically grown fruits and vegetables, the pesticide compounds in their urine drop to undetectable levels.  Wow.

So why haven't I switched to organic before now?  In a word, cost.  I've always known that organic produce is better for my kids (and myself), even if I've also insisted on burying my head in the sand and purposely NOT reading the articles that remind me why organic is a better choice.  But when you're standing in the grocery store, looking at one pint of strawberries that costs $2 and another that costs $6 and your grocery budget is only so much, it seems like a no-brainer.  I would love to buy the organic, I tell myself, but I just can't afford to right now.    

Or maybe I can't afford not to.  Maybe I'm irreparably damaging my children every time I feel like a good mom and serve them fresh fruits and vegetables.  Maybe they would be better off if I just handed them a box of ding-dongs.  Are there pesticides in processed foods?  Isn't anything good for you anymore? 

(Ignore this last paragraph or simply take it for what it is -- the stream-of-consciousness ramblings that go through my head every time I try to make a decision about any complicated issue that relates to my children.  I'm guessing other moms can relate.)

Anyway, next time I'm shopping, I'm going to take a second look at the organic produce.  I'll pay particularly close attention to the strawberries, apples, and spinach that are a family favorite, but also sit on the list of Top 12 Fruits and Vegetables You Should Buy Organic.  And before you panic too much, rest assured that there is also a "Clean 15" list of fruits and vegetables that are the least likely to be contaminated by pesticides, and therefore considered "safer" to buy in the non-organic variety.

Okay, so I've officially decided that I should be buying at least some organic produce.  My next mission:  to figure out how I'm going to pay for it.

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