Another Organic Foods Study—With Children in Mind

I recently blogged about a review of studies on organic foods put out by Stanford University that spurred misleading headlines which surely sent a few shoppers back to the conventional produce aisle. Well, another report has been published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in the journal Pediatrics, and their findings were similar, but aimed at children. 

But the bothersome part of all this is that when you read the studies, as I did, you notice how the majority of media articles about these studies are really skewed. What these incomplete articles highlight is the inability of many studies to find a difference in nutrition quality between organic and conventional food. But what the articles fail to mention is the poor quality of these studies. From the AAP review, “Nutritional differences between organic and conventional produce appear minimal, but studies examining this have been limited by inadequate controls for the many subtle potential confounders.” 

All the while, the many benefits found in the AAP report were greatly downplayed. I’d like to highlight a few:

“Organic produce contains fewer pesticide residues than does conventional produce, and consuming a diet of organic produce reduces human exposure to pesticides.” Isn’t this one of the main reasons we eat organic?

“Organic animal husbandry that prohibits the nontherapeutic use of antibiotic agents has the potential to reduce human disease caused by drug-resistant organisms.”

“Organic farming reduces fossil fuel consumption and reduces environmental contamination with pesticides and herbicides.”

Eating organic foods is particularly important in children. Even the lead author of the AAP report stated, “We do know that children—especially young children whose brains are developing—are uniquely vulnerable to chemical exposures.”

While I’m disappointed in the downplay of the benefits of eating organic foods, I was pleased to read that AAP recommends consulting Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen Plus list when trying to decide which fruits and vegetables to buy organic. Despite the many articles put out by mainstream media, the report made some good points that will hopefully not be missed by American Pediatricians.


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