Should you buy organic for your family?

4:30 PM, Aug 4, 2009   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- Organic Foods have become a booming business, bringing in $14 billion last year alone. 
It's expensive to buy everything organic so I wanted to show you which conventional foods have more pesticides and antibiotics than others and 6 organic foods worth putting at the top of your shopping list.

4-year-olds, Sofia and Mason Arnold dive in to help mom at dinnertime.

Their mom, Gina, is lucky they love their vegetables, but she wonders what else is in their food that's not listed on the label.

Gina Arnold/ Mother
"I think about it every time I don't buy organic. I wonder what effects pesticides have on us." "

Government funded research adds to the concern.The Centers for Disease Control , Emory University and the University of Washington studied pesticide levels in elementary school children for 15 days.

When they changed the kids' diets from conventional to organic for 5 consecutive days, they noticed a dramatic drop in their pesticide levels.

Dr. Alex Lu/ Emory University Researcher
"It started from a high level and then all the sudden we couldn't detect anything in the urine. That's really dramatic.""

Researchers substituted organic foods including fresh fruit, vegetables, juices, processed fruits and vegetables (salsa) and wheat-based, corn- based foods (pasta, popcorn, cereal, chips) for conventional foods the kids would normally eat.

Dr. Lu said the pesticide levels returned once the kids stopped eating organic.

Scientists are still trying to figure out how pesticides affect children, but Dr. Lu adds it took years to prove the health hazards of lead.

Dr. Carol Roberts/ Wellness Works Medical Doctor
"Why take a chance? Why should we be finding out 10 or 20 years down the road that these things are bad for people? They're not intended to be nutritious. Why put them in our bodies in the first place?""

Dr. Carol Roberts is the Medical Director of Wellness Works in Brandon. She recommends organic food to reduce your pesticide exposure.

Dr. Carol Roberts/ Wellness Works Medical Doctor
" I see people's health improve very much when they switch from conventional to organic.""

It can be expensive buying everything organic. On average, organic foods cost about 50 percent more than conventional foods.There are organic versions of just about everything available. Dr. Roberts said 6 organic foods are worth the extra money.

Number 1: Milk.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, organic cattle can't be given antibiotics, feed from animal byproducts or hormones.

Consumer Reports says studies suggest synthetic growth hormones may be carcinogenic and exposure may be linked to the early onset of puberty.

Dr. Carol Roberts/Wellness Works Medical Doctor
"These hormones make a cow produce anywhere from 10 to 100 times than it would without those hormones. They are breast stimulating hormones.""

Number 2: Organic meat and eggs.

Consumer Reports says you'll greatly reduce your chances of contracting mad cow disease by eating organic, grain fed beef. Organic cattle is not allowed to eat animal by-products.

Consumer Reports also says conventionally raised chicken can eat feed that contains neurotoxins, such as arsenic or heavy metals.

Certified organic chickens eat organic feed.

Dr. Carol Roberts, Wellness Works Medical Doctor
"Their eggs produce better quality B vitamins. They're a higher quality of protein. They have better essentials fats and they don't contain hormones, pesticides or antibiotics.""

Number 3: Organic baby food.

Dr. Carol Roberts, Wellness Works Medical Doctor
"Children are especially vulnerable to pesticides because they're so small so the same amount of pesticides will be even more damaging to a child, especially in certain stages of development."

Number 4: Organic grapes.

Imported grapes may have banned pesticides.

Dr. Carol Roberts/Wellness Works Medical Doctor
"We're still selling DDT to other countries even though it's been banned here so why bring that back here and put it in your system."

Number 5: Organic apples

Dr. Carol Roberts/Wellness Works Medical Doctor
"Apples are a very good source of nutrients but apples are very high in pesticides. And they're also usually waxed when they're conventional."

Number 6: Organic spinach

Dr. Carol Roberts/Wellness Works Medical Doctor
"Washing won't make much of a difference. It still doesn't get off all the pesticides. They have up to ten different pesticides in one sample of spinach"

Even buying just one or two foods on the list will help lower exposure levels.

That's something Gina is ready to do.

Gina Arnold/Mother
"If longterm, this has positive effects on their bodies and our bodies and let's us live longer healthier lives, then absolutely, we would do it."

Additional Information:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's own lab testing reveals that even after washing, some fruits & veggies still carry higher residue levels than others.

Based on 100,000 government pesticide test results, researchers at the non-profit consumer advocacy group, Environmental Working Group developed a "dirty dozen."


Buy these organic fruits and veggies when possible:

Apples, Bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach and strawberries.

For more information on this study go to:

Click on right side "Shoppers' Guide to Pesticides in Produce."


What does organic mean?

-Product meets USDA's approved organic list. Farms are independently verified by independent accredited inspectors.

No animals, except dairy cows prior to being moved to organic farms, can be given growth hormones, antibiotics or feed made from animal byproducts. No irradiation, genetic modification is allowed. No fertilizer made with sewage sludge or synthetic ingredients allowed.

-Natural or all natural does not mean organic. The claim is not verified by independent accredited inspectors.

Heather Van Nest, Heather's Natural Health, 10 Connects News

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