What are the benefits of organic food for children?

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Answered by: Dacia, An Expert in the Healthy Recipes for Kids Category
Organic food is grown without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, according to the National Resource Defense Council. Produce that has been grown organically has not been irradiated and does not contain genetically modified organisms. Organic meat comes from animals who have at least some access to the outdoors and are not treated with hormones or antibiotics. When deciding if organic foods are right for your family, consider some of the health benefits of organic food for children.



Research

A study performed at the University of Washington compared the urine of children who ate organic food with urine of children who ate conventional food. The results found that kids who ate an organic diet were exposed to six to nine times fewer toxic pesticides than their conventional-eating peers. Researchers don't yet know what negative health effects, if any, low-level, chronic exposure to agricultural chemicals have on young children. In large amounts, these chemicals have been linked to bone and brain cancer. Children could be at higher risk of illness from ingesting these chemicals, since their body sizes are so small when compared to adults.

Considerations



According to an article on CNN Health, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey performed in 2010 by the Center for Disease Control found that children who are exposed to chemicals used to grow conventional produce are more likely to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder than children who eat organic fruits and vegetables. In the past, agricultural chemicals have been linked to behavioral problems in children who live in farming communities. These chemicals have toxic effects on the nervous system and affect children's brain chemistry, leading to disorders such as ADHD, which is a disorder that can cause children to have difficulty paying attention and controlling their impulses.

Benefits

By feeding your child organic meat whenever possible, you can reduce her exposure to the antibiotics and growth hormones used to treat conventional meat animals. According to the USDA, the FDA claims that exposure to these antibiotics is safe, but some doctors believe an overexposure to antibiotics in meat can lead to antibiotics-resistant infections in animals and humans. Consider talking to your child's doctor about her thoughts on the importance of organic food for children.

Potential

The USDA states that organically produced beef is less likely to contain mad cow disease than conventionally raised beef. By sticking to preparing organic food for children, you reduce your child's of catching mad cow disease. Similarly, organically raised chickens are less likely to contain arsenic than conventionally farmed chickens. Arsenic is a cancer-causing chemical used in chicken production to promote growth and kill pests.

Expert Insight

The Environmental Working Group has compiled a list known as the Dirty Dozen. This list contains 12 fruits and vegetables that have the highest concentration of pesticides when grown conventionally. The group recommends that consumers buy these products organically whenever possible. As of 2010, the list contained celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, domestically grown blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, dark, leafy greens, cherries, potatoes, imported grapes and lettuce.

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