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February 2013 / Bronx/​Riverdale Family / Brooklyn Family / Long Island Family / Manhattan Family / Queens Family / Staten Island Family / Columnists / Good Sense Eating

Is it organic food better for children?

Organic: Worth the cost?

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Shopping for organic foods is an individual choice for your growing family.

“For me, personally, my top priority is making sure that my family is eating the recommended five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day, whether it be from organic produce or not,” says Elizabeth Zawila, a mother of two young children.

Organic defined

On food labels, the term “organic” is legally defined as:

• 100 percent organic: The product must contain only organically produced ingredients.

• Organic: The product must contain at least 95 percent of organically produced ingredients.

• Made with organic ingredients: Processed foods may bear this label if they contain at least 70 percent of organic ingredients.

Why choose organic?

There’s increasing concern about the safety of exposure to synthetic pesticide residues, especially for pregnant women and young children. What has captured parents’ attention is the emerging research linking pesticide exposure to children’s attention, cognition, and behavior, as well as sensory issues.

A clinical report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in November 2012 came out in favor of buying organic produce and meat, but suggested you can skip the organic milk. The report, which analyzed existing scientific evidence, found there’s little difference in the vitamin and mineral content between organic and conventional foods.

The report does cite lower pesticides in organically grown produce and a likely lower risk of exposure to drug-resistant bacteria.

In one study cited, switching to organic produce for five days reduced the levels of pesticide residue in the urine of children accustomed to eating conventional produce.

“It remains unclear whether such a reduction in exposure is clinically relevant,” the report states.

Organic milk is popular with parents due to concerns about growth hormone and estrogen often given to conventionally raised cows. The report concluded, “Ingestion of milk from estrogen-treated cows appears to be safe for children,” as there is little difference in the sex-hormone concentrations in organic and conventional milk.

Be strategic

Organics cost 10-to-40 percent more than conventionally grown produce. Save money by choosing store brands or shopping at warehouse clubs. Or you can purchase many organic grains, pastas, flours, dried fruit, and nuts in the bulk sections of stores for less.

“Labeling a food as ‘organic’ can give you a false sense of security. Even organic snack foods can be just as high in sugar, sodium, fat, as their non-organic counterpar­ts,” reminds Zawila, a registered dietitian who is a clinical nutrition specialist at the University of Illinois Medical Center.

The debate continues about which is healthier, but consider this: eating more fresh fruits and vegetables in general is the point.

If buying all organic isn’t a priority or a financial reality for you, consider taking a strategic approach. Insist on organic versions of what retains the most pesticide residue, like apples, grapes, or celery. Skip it for produce with skins or peels you would not consume such as bananas, pineapples, and onions.

Zawila adds, “Having young children brings many expenses, and I know pigeonholing myself into only buying organic produce would limit the amount and variety that I would be able to buy and prepare for my family.”

Dietician Christine Palumbo is based in Naperville, Ill. and is a frequent speaker on health and wellness. Contact her at Chris@ChristinePalumbo.com. Her Facebook page is Christine Palumbo Nutrition and her Twitter handle is @PalumboRD.

Citrus-Yogurt Sundae

Makes six servings with one cup of fruit per serving


8 oz. lowfat vanilla yogurt

1 tsp. freshly grated Sunkist orange peel

1 tsp. freshly grated Sunkist grapefruit peel

2 Sunkist grapefruit, peeled and sectioned

2 Sunkist oranges, peeled and cut into half-cartwheel slices

2 bananas, sliced

1 cup blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, or seedless grapes

1 tsp. sugar

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon


Combine the yogurt, orange and grapefruit peels; cover and chill. In a large bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients; cover and chill. To serve, spoon fruit mixture into individual dessert dishes and top with the yogurt.

NUTRITION Facts: 150 calories, 0.9 g total fat, 0.4 g saturated fat, 4 g protein, 35 g carbohydrates, 2 mg cholesterol, 5 g dietary fiber, 26 mg sodium

Recipe courtesy of Sunkist®

Posted 12:00 am, February 9, 2013
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Reader feedback

Charles Knapp from Carroll Gardens says:
Good Article. I think iot is important to talk about celiac disease. Diet support fdor Add, Dsylexic etal How about an article between and mothwer and a father of an Add Kid whose father is 50 and is add and dsylexic
May 10, 2013, 9:19 pm

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