Organic Produce Lowers Pesticide Levels In Our Kids
By Jay Wiener
Founder & CEO, WeightZone Factor
Children who eat organic fruits and vegetables have significantly lower levels of pesticides in their bodies than do children who eat conventional produce. Research demonstrating this effect was described in a study just published in the October issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.
Organic farmers shun organophosphorus pesticides, and the EPA has phased out most of them for residential use. However, they are still widely used in conventional agriculture. Despite the vast amount of anecdotal evidence indicating that organic produce is better for our children (and for us), there haven’t been many rigorous studies proving the benefits.
Now, a team of researchers from UC Berkeley has conducted a small but well-designed study demonstrating that children who consume only organic produce retain considerably less residues of three widely used pesticides. Even better, the reductions begin in just days.
About the Study
The team recruited 40 children between the ages of 3 and 6. Twenty were from an urban community in Oakland, Calif., and twenty came from a predominantly agricultural community in Salinas, California. To minimize cultural differences in diet between children living in both locations, all of the children studied were Mexican immigrants or Mexican-American.
All of the foods eaten by the children and their families were supplied by the researchers. Children followed a conventional diet for the first four days and then an organic diet for seven days. They returned to a conventional diet for the last five days. During every stage, the children were fed foods they normally ate; they simply switched back and forth between conventional and organic: fruits, breads, cereals, vegetables, dairy, eggs, juices and snack foods.
The researchers carefully monitored the eating habits and general lifestyles of the children to ensure they received valid results. (Details are available in the full report.) The team also collected daily urine samples during the 16-day study.
About 72 percent of the urine samples contained evidence of pesticides. Of the six most frequently detected pesticides, two decreased by nearly 50 percent when children were on the organic diet, and levels of a common herbicide fell by 25 percent. Amounts of three other pesticides were not significantly lower on the organic diet. Levels were generally higher in the Salinas children than in the Oakland children.
What the researchers couldn’t say, because they only tested organic consumption for seven days, was whether or not the levels of pesticides in the children’s urine would continue to drop if they were consistently fed organic foods. Regardless, the results were clear: When children are placed on an all-organic diet, the levels of many pesticides in their bodies will quickly go down.
The lead author, Asa Bradman, associate director of the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health at the University of California, Berkeley, summarized his report: “There’s evidence that diet is one route of exposure to pesticides, and you can reduce your exposure by choosing organic food. But I would never say that conventional fruits and vegetables are unsafe. They’re all healthy.”
Perhaps. But organic produce is apparently healthier.
Additional Reference: Eating Organic Lowers Pesticide Levels in Children (NY Times)
About Jay Wiener
Jay is both a professional mathematician and a humorist–a rare combination. After maintaining a 100+ pound weight loss for many years, he created a popular diet and fitness blog that makes wellness fun. It has helped countless people to lose weight and get healthier.
Jay is also the developer of WeightZone, a free algorithm that predicts a healthy zone of weight based on body stats, health history and exercise history. WeightZone has replaced the standard BMI and is considered to be the most accurate healthy weight guide available online.
To find your perfect weight and subscribe to his blog (to receive a free sample of his work), visit WeightZoneFactor.com.
The views and opinions of guest authors do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Full Circle.