Pediatricians Say Organic Food Isn't 'Better' for Kids, But This Mom Disagrees

farm shareIs organic better for kids? A new report for the American Academy of Pediatrics says ... sometimes? They're saying organic fruit and vegetables are no better nutritionally but they may be safer. Dr. Janet Silverstein, who co-authored a report on organics, says that while "theoretically there could be negative effects, especially in young children with growing brains" from eating foods treated with pesticides, "we just can't say for certain that organics is better without long-term controlled studies."

Okay, let me get out my BINDER of studies linking pesticides -- and genetically-modified organisms -- to health problems. That's the real reason people buy organic food for their kids, after all. But what pediatricians are worried about is that parents will avoid buying fresh fruit or veggies just because we can't afford to buy organic. First of all, baloney: I don't know any parents who do that. Secondly, there are cheaper ways to get organic food.

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I would estimate that about 80 percent of the fruit and vegetables I buy for my family is either organic or "minimally treated," and no, I'm not shelling out big bucks at Whole Paycheck. But I do think it's worth it. We already get exposed to too many toxins in our everyday lives, so I want to keep our exposure to a minimum, especially for my growing boy. I also want to support organics so it will grow in the marketplace -- which in turn will help bring down prices. And I just don't trust that GMOs are safe.

Here are a few strategies for how I eat organic on the cheap. Not all will work for everyone, but hopefully there's something helpful in this list. I kind of feel like a lot of you already know how to save money on organics, so if you have a trick you don't see on the list, please add your own in the comments!

1. Farmers' markets. At most markets you can actually talk with the farmer about how they grow their food. Sometimes their practices are organic in all but name -- they just lack certification.

2. Food coops. I have a food coop in my neighborhood that sells organic produce at just above wholesale prices. The only catch is that members have to work a few hours at the coop a month. I think it's worth it.

3. CSAs. Community Supported Agriculture, also known as farm shares. This is when you subscribe to regular deliveries of fruit and veggies directly from a farm. In New York City there's even a CSA that sells flash-frozen food from local farms through the winter.

4. Sales. Coupons. You know.

5. Pick your battles. The Environmental Working Group has their famous "Dirty Dozen" list of the most heavily-treated foods. These are the foods I almost always buy organic. I'm more willing to compromise on foods on their "clean fifteen" list.

6. Buy in season. Whatever's already growing in your area is often cheaper than out-of-season fancy fruits and veggies.

7. Grow your own. I know, a super-helpful idea that comes just in time for winter! But I'm just saying -- this is an option for those of you with outdoor space and a green thumb. If we had to live on the veggies I grow up on our city roof deck, we would starve, but I did manage to grow loads of tomatoes this year.

8. Buy organic-ish foods. A lot of produce may not be certified organic, but I think "minimally treated" is another good option.

And when you really, truly, absolutely cannot afford organic, I agree with the AAP that it's better to eat lots of conventional fruits and veggies and not enough organic.

Do you buy organic produce? How do you make it affordable?

 

Image via aMichiganMom/Flickr

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