Q. I keep
seeing those "certified organic" symbols on certain varieties
of produce and I'm wondering if organic foods are really worth the
price. What do you recommend?
has been tremendous growth and interest in organic foods. Certified
organic foods are now available in most mainstream grocery stores.
While they do cost more, there is data that suggests that eating organic
foods significantly lowers the pesticide exposure in children. In
one study (1), children who changed from a conventional to a totally
organic diet had undetectable levels of pesticide byproducts in their
urine after just a few days. While scientists don't always agree on
whether small amounts of pesticides are harmful for children, it does
seem prudent and wise to minimize your child's risk of pesticide exposure.
Environmental Working Group has assembled a report card and wallet
guide that shows the types of produce that are higher in pesticide
residues and those that contain little or no pesticide residues. Based
on data from the US Department of Agriculture Pesticide Data Program
(2) and other sources (3), the working group recommends that you purchase
organic varieties of the produce highest in pesticides, including
apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines,
peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach and strawberries.
The twelve least
contaminated types of produce include asparagus, avocados, bananas,
broccoli, cauliflower, corn (sweet), kiwi, mangos, onions, papaya,
pineapples, and sweet peas.
1. Lu C, Toepel K, Irish R, Fenske RA, Barr DB, Bravo R. Organic diets
significantly lower children's dietary exposure to organophosphorus
pesticides. Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Feb;114(2):260-3.