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Why Organic Food is Important for Babies

Babies and young children are more sensitive to chemicals such as the pesticides and herbicides using during conventional farming. The developing brain of an infant is more susceptible to adverse effects from chemicals and heavy metals when exposed in large amounts.

Organic vs Conventional Farming
Organic farming practices do not use chemicals during the growing or harvesting process and as such contain fewer harmful substances [1]. Whereas crops from a conventional farm may contain higher heavy metals, antibiotics, genetically modified ingredients (GMO) and chemical pesticide residue. When consumed in a large amount and over time, these toxins may have a negative impact on baby’s health and development [2].
Studies have linked pesticide exposure in children with an increase in learning disabilities and behavioural issues such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD [3].

Does that mean conventionally farmed food is bad for babies?
No. First and foremost, babies and growing children should be eating a variety of healthy foods daily including fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy, as these foods provide essential vitamins and minerals needed for healthy growth and development. However, where possible, preference should be given to offer organic food for babies, to reduce the amount of chemical exposure.
If buying 100% organic is not realistic for your family, an alternative might be to set aside a small portion of your budget to go toward organic food for you baby. Since babies eat only a very small amount, the cost to the family budget should remain relatively low.

Top foods to prioritise organic
The following foods have been identified as containing the highest levels of chemical pesticides [4]. Where possible, preference these foods as organic:

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Kale, collard and mustard greens
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Cherries
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Capsicum (belle peppers) and hot peppers
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes

References

  1. Barański et al. Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyze. British Journal of Nutrition, 2014. 112(5): p. 794-811.
  2. Roberts et al. Pesticide Exposure in Children. Pediatrics, 2012. 130(6): p. e1765-1788. 3. Koletzko et al.  Pesticides in dietary foods for infants and young children. Report of the Working Group on Pesticides in Baby Foods of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (ESPGHAN). Archives of Disease in Childhood, 1999. 80(1): p. 91-92.
  3. https://aco.net.au/Pages/ABoutUs/about.aspx
  4. http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/foe/legacy_url/378/TheDoseMakesThePoisonFeb2012_0.pdf?1471404362
  5. EWG’s 2021 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce | Dirty Dozen