Is Organic Food Better Over Conventional Food for Children?
Created by Anurima Updated on Nov 25, 2019
"Seema is at the supermarket, stocking up her cart with groceries. At the aisle where the lentils and spices are stacked, she picks up a couple of packets of her regular spices and dals. As she walks away, she catches a glimpse of an entire range of organic spices ranging from turmeric, cumin, coriander, and chili powder. On taking a closer look and comparing them with the packets from her cart, she hesitates yet replaces the regular spices with the organic spices."
She then takes a few minutes to weigh the health benefits of using organic ingredients as she is paying almost double the price of the non- organic variation. In the end, the guilt of spending more is overpowered by the feeling that she is making a healthier and a better choice for her children. Over time, she becomes quite an organic food fanatic and on her subsequent visits to the supermarket she picks up more organic products ranging from children’s clothing to cookies, chocolates, wheat, and tea to name a few. Seema has made an informed decision; here are a couple of facts as to why organic products are better than their non-organic counterparts.
What Exactly Is Organic Food?
Organic food refers to food which is grown or produced without the use of fertilizers, pesticides, irradiation, growth hormones, and antibiotics and food additives. Unlike conventional food producers, producers of organic food are required to hold an Organic Certification, which assures the quality by strictly following the ways of production and prevention of fraud. The certification is essentially required to regulate and aid the sale of such products to consumers.
The choice of organic food is endless today and is more in reach of the mass market. The products are priced at a premium and range from everyday cereal grains such as rice, wheat, and semolina to lentils, spices, oils, tea, coffee, sugar, cookies, chocolates and a variety of snacks and beverages. Most supermarkets have an organic food section, which includes a substitute for almost all the regular products consumed on a daily basis.
Is Organic Food Better Over Conventional Food for Children?
Does organic food make a difference in children? The burning question is how safe and high in nutrition are organic food for our children? During the course of my research on this subject, I came across various websites and discussion forums debating on the health benefits related to the consumption of such foods as opposed to conventionally grown and produced foods.
Most people, including myself, have thought of buying organic fruits, vegetables, and milk for my children and have done so on numerous occasions. But I am yet to be convinced of the benefits provided by them. Regular consumers of organic food cite the following reasons for their choice:
- Fruits and vegetables are safer as they are not exposed to chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
- In the case of non- vegetarian options, the livestock is not given growth hormones or antibiotics. They are exposed to open fields, natural surroundings and are considered healthier than conventionally grown livestock.
- Organic products are kinder to the environment as the production practices are designed to emphasize conservation and reducing pollutants in the soil as well as the air.
- Studies done on the organically grown foods have led to the fact that organic foods are nutritionally superior to their counterparts.
- Conventionally grown fruits and vegetables have long-term exposure to pesticides, which have been associated with cancer, infertility, and neurological disorders.
- Small doses of pesticides have been known to be far more dangerous to children than adults.
Should You Switch to Organic Products?
The on-going research has so far shown that organic foods may have a higher nutritive value than their non-organic counterparts. The reason being, that plants are able to boost their production to vitamins and antibiotics in the absence of strong pesticides, thereby developing a resistance to bugs and weeds while on the other hand, this may also mean that organic plants produce more natural toxin, which can be just as harmful as chemical pesticides sprayed on organic produce.
The prominent cause for concern towards organic food is that manure used to fertilize the crop could lead to contamination by E.coli (a type of bacteria that can cause severe food poisoning).
Consuming conventional products, on the other hand, increases the exposure to pesticides. This exposure is considered safe to a certain extent. However, studies have shown that pesticides can be significantly more toxic to children, pregnant women, and foetus. The best way to protect our children and our family is to ensure that the fruits and vegetables are thoroughly rinsed, washed and peeled before being eaten or being cooked. This way, most pesticides, and fertilizers are to be washed away.
With the costs of everyday items spiraling up and high, switching completely to an all-organic diet may be a thought far from reality for many of us. Well, we do have alternatives- to use regular produce by cleaning and purifying them. One option can be to invest in equipment which uses ozone technology to clean and purify fruits, vegetables and removes artificial hormones from meat and fish.
The two following brands are available and are gaining popularity due to the growing concern of food contamination by pesticides and chemicals:
- Vegepure Ozone Instrument, priced at about Rs. 4100
- Kent Vegetable and Fruit Purifier, priced at about Rs.6000.
A cheaper and homemade option can be to make a fruit and vegetable wash. For this, all we need is white vinegar (available in most supermarkets and grocery stores), water and a spray bottle. It is an all-natural mixture and cleans the fruits and vegetables better than plain water. The acetic acid in vinegar kills bacteria and dissolves chemical and pesticide residues.
Below Is The Procedure as follows:
For hard-skinned fruits and vegetables such as pineapples, pomegranate, pumpkins, etc:
- Fill the spray bottle with equal quantities of vinegar and water.
- Spray onto the fruits and vegetables, rub thoroughly and rinse under running water.
For soft-skinned fruits and vegetables such as potatoes, cucumber, apples, etc:
- Fill a large bowl with equal quantities of vinegar and water.
- Soak the fruits and vegetables for a couple of minutes and rinse thoroughly.
A soft brush may be used to clean fruits and vegetables. You may also want to cut off damaged or bruised parts of the produce.
Foods Have Highest Amount of Pesticide Contamination
The following non-organic foods are known to have the highest amount of pesticide contamination:
Now we know that we need to be extra careful in the cleaning and handling of the above-mentioned fruits and vegetables.
Cleanest Fruits and Vegetable
The following are known to be the cleanest among the fruits and vegetable list:
- Sweet Corns
- Sweet Potatoes
The health risks associated with pesticides are a parent’s nightmare. Soft skinned fruits and vegetables are known to absorb the chemicals, herbicides, and pesticides more easily as compared to hard-skinned ones. Spinach and lettuce, for example, are sprayed with harsher chemicals to prevent pest attacks, but unfortunately, the chemicals remain in the product and are passed on to the consumers.
Using any of the methods mentioned above to purify the products will be one step closer to reduce the exposure of harmful chemicals and will be beneficial for our children in the long run.
In addition to washing and purifying, peeling and removing the skin also takes off most of the harmful chemicals and pesticide residue. Non-organic milk is known to contain artificial growth hormones. Hence, drinking pasteurized milk is considered safer than buying milk directly from a milkman.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Organic Food at a Glance:
- It contains marginally higher Nutrients- Antioxidants, Vitamins, especially Vitamin C.
- Reduces Allergies and diseases as organic farming.
- Uses natural ingredients and no synthetic chemical.
- It contains no genetically modified ingredients.
- They may get spoilt faster than regular food due to the absence of chemicals and preservatives.
- There is some use of chemicals in production .
- Hence is not completely chemical-free.
- Expensive when compared to conventional food.
- Reduces the exposure to fertilizers and pesticides.
- No real health benefits has been proven so far.
Will Your Child Be Healthier by Following an All-organic Food Diet?
Organic food may not necessarily be better for your child or the environment, but knowing the pros and cons and making informed choices are the best and the safest bet on whether to ‘go organic’ or not. Hence, you may want to mix food from both organic and non-organic groups to reduce the risk of exposure to harmful chemicals to children and avoiding heavy expenses towards food.
The most important thing, however, is to make sure that your child gets at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. The health benefits associated with having a diet of fruits and vegetables is known to outweigh the risks of pesticides and chemical exposure.
Pregnant women should take extra caution and wash fruits and vegetables to remove any residue of fertilizers or pesticides and thoroughly cook meat, whether organic or not.
Image source - http://dharmanext.blogspot.in/2012_09_01_archive.html
| Jan 13, 2016
I normally don't go recommending companies online, but I have been using Orgbasket. com for a few months now. I choose them for 2 reasons. 1. They are a curated service with a farmers network. Soil testing is done periodically. 2. Since they cut out all middle man, the prices are pretty reasonable.
| Aug 07, 2015
Informative write up. Most of my doubts about organic food have been cleared.
| Aug 03, 2015
Thanks anurima fr gvng DS information bout orgnc r non organic food nw I surly try SME orgnc fruit fr my little one
| Sep 30, 2013
Nice informative article. Problem in a country like ours is that we do not know for sure if the organic food being sold in the market is pure or adulterated.
| Jan 09, 2013
Yes Neena, it is a good idea to mix items from both organic and non organic produce both from the cost and health perspective. Good luck!
| Jan 07, 2013
Anurima you have correctly mentioned that price infact is a deterrent for many parents. But reading this piece makes me want to try some organic items for sure, at least the ones my child eats. thanks.
| Jan 06, 2013
Thanks Neetu. Very little is really known about Organic food leaving most parents confused on the health benefits/ risks when compared to non organic produce. Researching on the article was a learning experience to me as well.
| Jan 04, 2013
Yet again, a very easy read. Anurima this write up covers all the apprehensions and questions I had about organic food. and also very non-imposing answers to these questions. thanks.