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Benefits of Organic Food

Perception: Organic food is a fad. There is no difference between organic food and conventional food. 

Reality: Organic food is food made without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or chemicals. Eating organic food prevents unnecessary exposure to pesticides and other toxins found in conventional food and protects against chronic pesticide exposure.

Key Points:

*"USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives."

*"Produce can be called organic if it’s certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest. Prohibited substances include most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides."

*"As for organic meat, regulations require that animals are raised in living conditions accommodating their natural behaviors (like the ability to graze on pasture), fed 100% organic feed and forage, and not administered antibiotics or hormones."

*"When packaged products indicate they are “made with organic [specific ingredient or food group],” this means they contain at least 70% organically produced ingredients. The remaining non-organic ingredients are produced without using prohibited practices (genetic engineering, for example) but can include substances that would not otherwise be allowed in 100% organic products."

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Source:

McEvoy, Miles. (2012, March 22). Organic 101: What the USDA Organic Label Means. Retrieved from https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2012/03/22/organic-101-what-usda-organic-label-means

Key Points:

*"The USDA organic regulations describe organic agriculture as the application of a set of cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that support the cycling of on-farm resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity."

*"Organic producers use natural processes and materials when developing farming systems—these contribute to soil, crop and livestock nutrition, pest and weed management, attainment of production goals, and conservation of biological diversity."

*"Organic crop producers build soil quality by adding compost, animal manures, or green manures. As soil organisms break down these inputs, they convert nutrients into forms plants can absorb and create humus that sustains soil quality."

*"Organic crop producers use organic seeds and planting stocks to protect the integrity of their crops."

*"Organic crop producers practice crop rotation (rotating the crops they grow in a field or planting bed over time) to interrupt insect life cycles, suppress soil borne plant diseases, prevent soil erosion, build organic matter, fix nitrogen, and increase farm biodiversity."

*"Pest management on organic farms relies on the ‘PAMS’ strategy: prevention, avoidance, monitoring and suppression."

*" Organic crop producers are responsible for preventing contact between organic and conventionally-grown crops, as well as contact with prohibited pesticides or fertilizers."

*" Organic livestock must have access to outdoor areas, shade, shelter, space for exercise, fresh air, clean drinking water, and direct sunlight."

*" Organic producers must give ruminant animals (e.g., cattle, sheep, and goats) access to pasture during the grazing season. Livestock may not be continuously confined."

*"Balanced nutrition, exercise, and a low-stress environment also contribute to building strong immune systems in animals."

*"Organic livestock producers work to manage exposure to disease and parasites through grazing management, proper sanitation, and preventing the introduction of disease agents."

*"Organic livestock must eat certified organic feed. Organic feed must be grown and processed by certified organic operations. Similarly, any pastures, forages, and plant -based bedding (such as hay)  accessible to livestock must be certified as organically grown and processed.

*" Products labeled as “made with organic” specified ingredients may include up to 30% non-organic agricultural ingredients, but all other additives must be approved for organic use. No ingredients or products may be produced using genetic engineering, sewage sludge, or ionizing radiation.:

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Source

United States Department of Agriculture Introduction to Organic Practices. (2015, September). Retrieved from https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/Organic%20Practices%20Factsheet.pdf

Key Points: 

*"We choose organic because we know, for example, that children fed an organic diet have much lower levels of metabolites of high-risk insecticides in their bodies. We also know that choosing organic food reduces the risk of exposure to toxic pesticides in our diet."

*"Many of these chemicals are known or suspected to cause cancer or disrupt our hormones, mimicking testosterone or estrogen, its authors continued. “Nearly 1,400 pesticides … registered by the Environmental Protection Agency for agricultural and nonagricultural uses … have been linked to brain/central nervous system, breast, colon, lung, ovarian cancers … as well as Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma” and more."

*"The American Academy of Pediatrics has also warned about the exposure to pesticides. “Children encounter pesticides daily and have unique susceptibilities to their potential toxicity,” it wrote in 2012, and “chronic health implications from both acute and chronic exposure are emerging.”

*"While we can’t limit all of our children’s exposures to toxins in the environment, we do have a say in the food they eat. And one of the best ways to limit their exposure to these chemicals is to choose an organic diet."

*"Choosing organic meat and dairy for your kids is also the best way to ensure that they’re not exposed to endocrine-disrupting chemicals like the synthetic hormones given to nonorganic livestock to speed growth and alter reproductive cycles. And choosing organic meat and dairy means your children are not fed meat that was raised on daily doses of antibiotics to speed growth, leading to dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria."

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Source:

Dr. Alan Greene Anna Lappé. (2014, June 23). Why Organic Is the Right Choice for Parents. Retrieved from http://time.com/2914155/organic-food-children-health

Key Points:

*Switching children to an organic diet drastically reduces their exposure to organophosphates, a class of pesticides that includes the common and toxic malathion and chlorpyrifos, which affect the nervous system, according to Beyond Pesticides, a nonprofit organization that works to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides.""

*"Beyond Pesticides cites studies conducted by Environmental Health Perspectives where children's urine was tested for organophosphorus pesticides to analyze whether eating an organic diet substantially decreases exposure. The results indicated that for certain types of pesticides, such as organophosphates, diet is the primary route of exposure and switching to an organic diet decreases exposure substantially."

*"Beyond Pesticides says it's most important to purchase organic food for products that your children consume in great quantity."

*"If food is simply labeled "organic," only 95 percent of the ingredients in the product qualify as organic. If the food is labeled "certified organic," 100 percent of the ingredients are organic."

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Source:

Salazar, Ashley. Does Eating Organic Improve Children’s Health? Retrieved from https://www.parenting.com/child/nutrition/does-eating-organic-foods-improve-childrens-health

Key Points:

*"Organic farming uses an approach to growing crops and raising livestock that avoids synthetic chemicals, hormones, antibiotic agents, genetic engineering, and irradiation."

*"Products labeled “100% organic” must contain only organically produced ingredients and processing aids (excluding water and salt). Products labeled “organic” must consist of at least 95% organically processed ingredients (excluding water and salt); the remaining 5% of ingredients may be conventional or synthetic but must be on the USDA’s approved list."

*"An analysis of cross-sectional data from the NHANES has demonstrated that within the range of exposure in the general US population, the odds of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder for 8- to 15-year-old children were increased 55% with a 10-fold increase in urinary concentrations of the organophosphate metabolite dimethyl alkylphosphate.55"

*"The National Research Council reported in 1993 that the primary form of exposure to pesticides in children is through dietary intake.56 Organic produce consistently has lower levels of pesticide residues than does conventionally grown produce,57 and a diet of organic produce reduces human exposure."

*"Several studies have clearly demonstrated that an organic diet reduces children’s exposure to pesticides commonly used in conventional agricultural production. A small longitudinal cohort of children who regularly consumed conventional produce demonstrated that urinary pesticide residues were reduced to almost nondetectable levels (below 0.3 µg/L for malathion dicarboxylic acid, for example) when they were changed to an organic produce diet for 5 days.58"

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Source:

Forman, Joel and Silverstein, Janet. (2012, November). Organic Foods: Health and Environmental Advantages and Disadvantages. Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/5/e1406

Key Points:

*”Overall, the results showed that the presence of two kinds of pesticides (organophosphate insecticides and the herbicide 2,4-D) in the children’s bodies decreased after eating organic produce (by 40 and 49 percent in the insecticides and by 25 percent in the herbicide).

*"The Berkeley study is the first to look at the effects of an organic diet among a Mexican immigrant population and test the effect on insecticide levels. Other studies at Harvard looked at the effect of an organic diet on organophosphate pesticide exposure and found similar results."

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Source:

Wong, Kristine. (2015, November 3). Is Feeding Your Child Organic Food Enough to Reduce the Pesticides in Her Body? Retrieved from https://civileats.com/2015/11/03/is-feeding-your-child-organic-food-enough-to-remove-the-pesticides-from-her-body-farmworkers-food-safety/

Key Points:

*”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.

*"We also concluded that these children were most likely exposed to these organophosphorus pesticides exclusively through their diet."

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Source:  

Lu C, Toepel K., Irish R., Fenster RA, Barr DB, Bravo R. (2006, February). Organic Diets Significantly Lower Children’s Dietary Exposure to Organophosphorus Pesticides. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16451864

Key Points:

*"One example evident from the biomonitoring data is chlorpyrifos, a non-persistent OP insecticide. Although banned in 2000 for use inside the home, it continues to be used in agriculture, including orchard fruits, such as apples and pears, and other dietary staples of children."

*"“Consumption of organic food may lower pesticide exposure, as demonstrated by a study in which children were placed on an organic diet for a period of 5 consecutive days. A rapid and dramatic drop in their urinary excretion of metabolites of malathion and chlorpyrifos OP insecticides during the organic diet phase was observed.22

*"In the CDC biomonitoring data, chlorpyrifos-specific urinary metabolites were highest for the youngest age group assessed (6–11 years) compared with older children and adults.19"

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Source:

James R. Roberts, MD, MPH, Catherine J. Karr, MD, PhD, and Council on Environmental Health. (2012, November 26). Pesticide Exposure in Children. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5813803/

Key Points:

*”Organophosphate pesticide (OP) exposure to the U.S. population is dominated by dietary intake.”

*”Long-term dietary exposure to OPs was estimated from dietary intake data, and estimates were consistent with DAP measurements. More frequent consumption of organic produce was associated with lower DAPs.

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Source:

Curl, C.L.; Beresford S.A.;  Fenske R.A.; Fitzpatrick, A.L.; Kaufman J.D.; Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, and 2Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA. (2015, May). Estimating pesticide exposure from dietary intake and organic food choices: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Retrieved from

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25650532