Findings, made by Doctor Lu of Emory University in the US, show that children who consume an organic diet have less exposure to certain man-made chemicals. The children were tested for two common agricultural pesticides whilst eating a conventional diet, and then again 5 days after they started eating a mostly organic diet. The levels of the harmful chemicals (which have been linked to neurological disorders), fell dramatically within a number of days to a concentration six times lower than when the children were eating a conventional diet. The study concluded that childrenâ€™s exposure to agricultural chemicals can be reduced through an organic diet, and also suggests that exposure to environmental agricultural chemicals would also be reduced with a switch to organic farming methods.
Buying organic is a valid addition to healthier living, reducing the amount of chemicals in our food, clothes and cosmetics. Understandably many people are put off by the cost. I encourage people to look at the problem more laterally; is organic food expensive, or is the food that you buy cheap? Why is it cheap to produce? Because the ingredients are poor quality, it is crammed with fillers and bulking agents, because the farming practice was on a massive scale, using vast quantities of chemicals etc? After all, the food industry is not in it to make you healthy, but to make money for itself, and that means cutting corners. Each time I see a whole chicken on a supermarket shelf for Â£2.50 I shudder; what must its existence have been like, what do you have to do to produce an animal so cheaply? Another way to look at it is to take a look around your home at all of the things that you have bought recently; go on, how much were those new shoes? We are persuaded into spending more and more money on increasingly unnecessary things, and yet we are often unprepared to invest as much money in our health, as in our wardrobe.
An article published in Coronary and Diabetic Care in the UK 2004 by the Association of Primary Care Groups and Trusts, concluded that a predominantly organic diet:
â€¢ Reduces the amount of toxic chemicals ingested; children may be particularly susceptible to chemical residues.
â€¢ Totally avoids GMOs [genetically modified organisms]; the Soil Association believe that the amount of allergies to soya has risen in the Uk by 50% since genetically modified soya was introduced. Many people are concerned that the tests performed on GMOâ€™s have not been satisfactory, and that we do not know for certain that they are safe for human consumption.
â€¢ Reduces the amount of food additives and colourings; Food colourings and additives are widely linked to hyperactivity and behavioral problems in children. Many additives that are used in the UK and US are banned in many other countries due to concerns about their safety; often linked to cancer risk.
â€¢ Increases the amount of beneficial vitamins, minerals, EFAs [essential fatty acids] and antioxidants consumed. It has been shown that Organic milk contains up to 5 times more essential fatty acids than regular milk.
â€¢ Appears to have the potential to lower the incidence of common conditions such as cancer, coronary heart disease, allergies and hyperactivity in children. Women with breast cancer are five to nine times more likely to have pesticide residues in their blood than those who do not.
Recent research has shown that organic foods have higher percentages of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, they are less likely to be contaminated with pesticides, toxins, hormones, and do not contain artificial additives or hydrogenated fats. Organic meat often has a healthier fat profile, because organic animals are fed on more natural traditional feeds such as grass, rather than the highly subsidized grains, which increase fat production. In addition to this organic farming protects the environment, is sustainable and has strict animal welfare guidelines. Often it is the supermarkets who bag the profits brought by organic farming, so explore smaller supermarkets, farmers markets, ask in your local butcher and fruit and vegetable shop, and take family excursions out to farms that sell their own produce. It will be a good chance for the children to see where real food comes from.
If the cost of Organics is still prohibitive for you, then try prioritizing certain products such as baby food, childrenâ€™s food, dairy, meat, fish, strawberries, grapes and salads which are likely to have larger amounts of chemical/hormonal residues. If you change one thing for your children, make it organic milk, as the high amounts of essential fats will boost their health and development. I do hope that this has given you some food for thought.
Vikki Scovell BA(hons) PG DIP is a fully qualified Personal Trainer and Fitness Coach. Vikki is a consultant in Healthy Eating and Exercise initiatives to schools in the independent sector and publishes School and General Healthy Living newsletters.Â