Doctor knows best
The American Academy of Pediatrics published a report in 2012 coupling the finding of lower levels of pesticides in foods that are organically grown and the potentially lower risk of exposure to drug-resistant bacteria, with children’s over all health.
You would expect a pediatrician to consider it the most important thing for children’s diets to include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, but is it surprising that they also recommend organically grown foods for the sake of avoiding drug-resistant bacteria, and synthetic, chemical herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers?
In terms of health advantages, diets of organically grown foods have been shown to expose consumers to fewer of the pesticides associated with the causes of human diseases. Organic farming has been demonstrated to have a kinder environmental impact than industrial farming. Studies also have demonstrated that there aren’t any detrimental or disease-promoting effects from an organic diet.
Organically Grown Foods
Organic farming has grown very quickly over the last decade, with organically grown foods edging out of the niche market to appear right on the shelf in your hometown grocery store. Organically grown fruits, vegetables and meats are also replacing the industrially farmed products to which we are accustomed.
Industrial agriculture employs synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers for growing vegetation, and synthetic hormones and antibiotics for raising food animals. Tests have shown that chemical pesticides are present in the crops taken to market, and hormones are present in conventionally produced milk. Even if producers claim that these chemicals are safe for human consumption there are many pediatricians who are concerned about the effects of these chemicals on the development of the very young.
Children’s Diets and the Chemicals Contained Therein
Let’s look at some studies about children’s diets. When children eat foods that are organically grown they aren’t even exposed to the harsh and toxic chemicals used in industrial farming.
Synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers never end up in your child’s breakfast cereal or juice box. Synthetic hormones and antibiotics don’t get into the milk produced by cows that are raised on organic farms.
Let’s take a look at the results of some studies comparing industrial agriculture to organic agriculture as it relates to children’s diets. A group from the US Environmental Protection Agency’s National Institute of Environmental Health Science, wrote an article in 2006 titled, “Organic Diets Significantly Lower Children’s Dietary Exposure to Organophosphorus Pesticides” in which they studied 23 elementary school children’s diets. First they substituted all the conventionally grown foods in the children’s diets with organically grown foods for 5 consecutive days, then they took urine samples twice a day (first morning urine and last urine before bedtime) for 15 days. “We found that the median urinary concentrations of the specific metabolites for malathion and chlorpyrifos decreased to the non-detect levels immediately after the introduction of organic diets and remained non-detectable until the conventional diets were reintroduced. In conclusion, we were able to demonstrate that an organic diet provides a dramatic and immediate protective effect against exposures to organophosphorus pesticides that are commonly used in agricultural production. We also concluded that these children were most likely exposed to these organophosphorus pesticides exclusively through their diet.“
Organophosphorus compounds in our food supply
The pesticide, organophosphorus was developed in the 1940s as a defense against agricultural pests, which proved very effective against plant pests, but also proved to be toxic to humans. Interestingly, organophosphorus is used to make Sarin gas, a deadly nerve agent that has been used in chemical warfare. It was also in the pesticide used to eliminate the mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus.
When ingested by humans, organophosphorus inhibits an enzyme (cholinesterase) that carries signals between nerves and muscles. When cholinesterase is inhibited, acetylcholorin builds up in the nerves, which become overactive. Essentially, victims die because their muscles are paralyzed and they can’t breathe. The risk of death depends on the amount of the exposure and the age and overall health of the person exposed.
Small amounts of organophosporus on crops are tolerated in America, but it is up to the farmers to ensure that the amounts don’t reach high, toxic levels. In organic farming organophosphorus is not used because it is a synthetic chemical.
Many more studies will need to be done before we are able to understand all of the effects on our bodies that result from the chemical soups from which we pull our food supply, but two things are already clear, school children’s exposure to organophosphorus comes only through children’s diets, and diets of organically grown foods do not contain organophosphorus compounds.
You, and your child, will still get the vitamins and minerals you need to support good health from eating a diet of conventionally grown and produced foods, but you will also get the exposure to synthetic chemicals along with it. Why not ease your mind, and give your family wholesome and nutritious foods that are grown and produced organically? Your children’s diets are the building blocks from which we make adult humans.