I try to buy organic as much as I can, but great googly moogly it can be expensive! I usually focus on the dirty dozen when it comes to produce, and we always buy organic milk, but I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve bought organic meat. So how do you know which organic foods are worth shelling out the extra cash?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently conducted a study on organic versus conventional produce, meat, and dairy. The study concluded that there is no real nutritional difference between organic and regular foods—they have the same nutrients, minerals, vitamins, etc.; however, organic foods have been proven to contain lower levels of pesticides and other chemicals, which is especially important to small children whose brains are still developing.
When it comes to meat, the hormone and steroid levels in conventional meat were not found to be significant or very different from those found in organic meat, thought the AAP notes that the animals who provide the latter are “less likely to be contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria.” Something to think about and definitely more of an issue when it comes to red meat versus poultry.
Perhaps the most surprising part of the report (to me at least), was that the AAP found no real benefit to buying organic milk. Considering I have been shelling out around $7 or $8 a gallon for organic whole milk (about twice the price of the non-organic variety), I was shocked—and a little embarrassed considering I was the one who insisted that we only give Olivia organic milk or she would surely grow boobs by the third grade. The fear of early puberty is what made my husband cave in. Turns out, I was wrong.
At the end of the day, the AAP report concluded that the most important thing is for children to get plenty of healthy foods, organic or otherwise. As Janet Silverstein, MD, FAAP, a member of the AAP Committee on Nutrition and an author on the report, notes, “Many families have a limited food budget, and we do not want families to choose to consume smaller amounts of more expensive organic foods and thus reduce their overall intake of healthy foods like produce.”