• Organic Food Is Pricey. What Fruits and Veggies Are Worth Buying on a Budget?

    Organic food may be a little more expensive, but it has positive health benefits to young children.
    by Kitty Elicay .
Organic Food Is Pricey. What Fruits and Veggies Are Worth Buying on a Budget?
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  • You’ve probably noticed the increase of fruits and vegetables labeled as ‘organic’ in supermarkets, and it may have enticed you to make the switch. The problem? Organic produce costs higher than the usual fruits and vegetables. And with the rising prices in commodities, you’re likely to ask if choosing to go organic is even worth the switch.

    What does organic produce mean?

     According to the “Organic Agriculture Act of 2010,” the term refers to the particular farming and processing system, which avoids the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals when growing fruits and vegetables. Organic animal products like meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy food, come from animals that are fed 100% organic feed products, receive no antibiotics or growth hormones, and have access to the outdoors, according to KidsHealth

    Is organic produce healthier than conventionally-grown products?

    Janet Silverstein, MD, FAAP, and a member of the AAP Committee on Nutrition, puts it this way. “What’s most important is that children eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products, whether those are conventional or organic foods. This type of diet has proven health benefits.

    “Many families have a limited food budget, and we do not want families to choose to consume smaller amounts of more expensive organic foods and thus reduce their overall intake of healthy foods like produce.”

    The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) concluded in a 2012 report there is no significant difference in nutritional benefits when buying organic. But, “children — especially young children whose brains are developing — are uniquely vulnerable to chemical exposures,” said Joel Forman, MD, FAAP, a member of the AAP Council on Environmental Health.

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    Studies have shown that repeated exposure to pesticide may affect young children’s neurological and behavioral development. This landmark report And in a study published by the journal Pediatrics, researchers found a link between pesticides and the rise of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the U.S. and Canada after measuring pesticide levels in urine samples.

    Your kids also avoid the risk of developing antibiotic resistance when they eat organic. Conventionally-grown livestock are fed antibiotics to protect against illness so farmers can raise them in crowded or unsanitary conditions, according to Time. And because this can be absorbed by consumers, it may contribute to antibiotic resistance, according to Rolf Halden, professor and director of the Biodesign Center for Environmental Security at Arizona University. “Organic food is intrinsically safer in this respect,” he tells Time.

    In addition, synthetic hormones, which are injected into animals to produce more milk or eggs than usual have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. Organic meat and dairy will not contain these hormones.

    (Women who are undergoing fertility treatment may also want to look into eating more organic food. A study in JAMA Internal Medicine, a journal of the American Medical Association, found that eating foods with fewer pesticides boosts women’s chances to conceive.)

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    What organic foods are worth buying?

    Exposure to harsh chemicals is a valid health concern, especially if you have young kids, so if you can afford organic products, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t buy them. If the cost worries you, the AAP recommends being selective. “Purchasing meat from organic farms that do not use antibiotics for nontherapeutic uses has the potential to reduce antibiotic resistance in bacteria that infect people,” according to their report.

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    If you have to be selective, what are the items should you pick to be organic? Each year, the U.S.-based Environmental Working Group (EWG) gives an annual update of its "Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce." According to its website, it is "based on results of more than 38,800 samples of produce tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration. It is important to note that the samples are tested for pesticides after they have been prepared to be eaten. This means the produce is thoroughly washed and, when applicable, peeled. After these preparations, pesticide residues are still detected on many of the fruits and veggies."

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    Last April 2018, EWG released its so-called "Dirty Dozen," a list that singled out produce with the highest loads of pesticide residues in the U.S.

    1. Strawberries
    2. Spinach
    3. Nectarines
    4. Apples
    5. Grapes
    6. Peaches
    7. Cherries
    8. Pears
    9. Tomatoes 
    10. Celery
    11. Potatoes 
    12. Sweet Bell Peppers

    EWG also had its "Clean Fifteen" list of produce least likely to contain pesticide residues. These are:

    1. Avocados
    2. Sweet corn
    3. Pineapples
    4. Cabbages
    5. Onions
    6. Frozen sweet peas
    7. Papayas
    8. Asparagus
    9. Mangoes
    10. Eggplants
    11. Honeydews
    12. Kiwis
    13. Cantaloupes
    14. Cauliflower
    15. Broccoli
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