What took them so long? When my first child was about five months old and diving for my food, I instinctively knew that feeding him vegetables laced with chemicals designed to hurt or kill things not incredibly smaller than him was a really bad idea.
Or at least, how could it be a good idea, right?
A few months ago Stanford University thought pesticides were safe after avery controversial study that they claim reveals pesticide residue shouldn’t be a concern for parents. Yes, you read that right: pesticides should not be a concern for parents. This research raised a lot of eyebrows and was received with skepticism throughout the food community.
Once again, my maternal instincts make me a wee bit suspicious.
Personally, I’d like to see who funded the study. Most times there’s a big corporate backer, like Monsanto, behind the wheel with results like this. I’m guessing that the world’s largest pesticide manufacturer would have a lot to gain if a well-respected university endorsed their product.
Well, this week, in a pretty history-making way, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has voiced their opinion on the topic of pesticide safety for children. And it’s an important message for parents for many reasons.
Contrary to what the Stanford University study on organics a few weeks back suggested, the pediatricians say when it comes to feeding kids, relying on federal standards for pesticide residue isn’t good enough.
Why? Because when doctors, especially the entire pediatric community, stands up to big ag with this kind of declaration, those big corporations get a little nervous. And it brings parents one step closer to the day where we have less pesticides in our food supply.
Here’s more from NPR:
The pediatricians are worried because babies of female farm workers in California showed small but significant developmental and motor delays when their mothers were exposed to pesticides at levels similar to those deemed acceptable in conventionally grown produce while pregnant.
Joel Forman, an associate professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and a lead author of the new report, said in an interview:
“Clearly if you eat organic produce, you have fewer pesticides in your body. That’s particularly important for young children because they are especially vulnerable to chemical exposure while their brains are developing.”
On the topic of meat and poultry, the AAP points out that the consumption of conventionally-raised animals is an important factor in the rise of deadly antibiotic-resistant strains because the livestock is often fed antibiotics to stimulate their growth unnecessarily. Organically raised livestock is likely to be free of any antibiotic-resistant bacteriawhich is a primary benefit of spending a little bit more for your meat.
Antibiotic overuse is the primary reason we have cut a lot of meat out of our diet. I’ve had multiple sinus infections each year for the last eight and my immune system has become resistant to most of the super antibiotics that fight off serious bacterial infections. My doctors have warned me that I might not be able to fight off a deadly infection as a result. Thanks to this ultra-awareness of the dangers connected to antibiotic overuse, we work hard to not bring antibiotics into our home through food.
For my family, we made a conscious decision to eat less meat so that when we do, we can afford the best quality, which for us means free of pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, etc.
Ok, back to this study.
The AAP did say that organic foods have the same nutrients as conventionally-grown foods, and their first priority is to encourage parents to provide a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. For families on a low or restricted food budget, it can be a challenge to afford organic food and they don’t want children’s intake reduced in order to fit all organic produce into their budget.
Dr Forman recommends that families be selective when choosing organic foods and benefit from the Dirty Dozen shopping guide that the Environmental Working Group publishes each year. This guide identifies which fruit and vegetables have the highest pesticide residues, to help parents decide when to choose organic or conventional foods to stretch their food budget.
When we first started buying organic produce for our son, we bought everything organic and saw first hand how expensive, and potentially unnecessary, that can be. Now we shop using the Dirty Dozen recommendations and it has helped guide us through the produce department with our budget in mind.
Many publishers have covered this news and, after reading some of the articles, what I believe the important messages from the AAP are:
- eat a healthy diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables
- select organics with the guidance of the EWG Dirty Dozen report
- limit consumption of conventionally-raised beef and poultry.
What’s your take?