A new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that organic foods aren’t any safer or more nutritious for children than conventionally-produced foods.
“Parents know it’s important for children to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products and whole grains,” the study said. “But it’s less clear whether spending the extra money on organic foods will bring a significant benefit to their children’s health.”
In other words, it simply doesn’t matter whether children eat organic or conventional food, as long as they maintain a healthy diet, noted Dr. Janet Silverman, one of the lead authors of the report.
Over the last 10 years, the image of U.S. agriculture industry has suffered much criticism from the rising organic movement, which contends that organic farming is a superior system of producing food.
The AAP study confirms once again that not only is conventional agriculture a safe, sustainable, responsible system for supplying the world with food, it is also the system by which all others are compared.
And how does organic stack up to conventional? According to the study, the higher cost of organic may actually hurt parental efforts to protect their children’s health.
“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,” Silverstein explained.
The report is similar to a recently released Stanford study, conducted by Crystal Smith-Spangler, an instructor at Stanford, and others. She noted, “Some believe that organic food is always healthier and more nutritious. We were a little surprised that we didn’t find that.”
The authors of the AAP study didn’t unequivocally endorse conventional agriculture, and I’m sure we’ll see the organic groups cherry pick some AAP observations.
An AAP press release on the study noted, “While organic foods have the same vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins, lipids and other nutrients as conventional foods, they also have lower pesticide levels, which may be significant for children. Organically raised animals are also less likely to be contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria because organic farming rules prohibit the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics.”
The AAP also made the assumption that organically-produced food was somehow better for the environment and climate change.
Despite this backtracking, the study could not escape its findings that in the long term, “there is currently no direct evidence that consuming an organic diet leads to improved health or lower risk of disease.”
The AAP report, “Organic Foods: Health and Environmental Advantages and Disadvantages,” will be released at a news conference, Oct. 22 at the AAP National Conference & Exhibition in New Orleans. A news release is available online at http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Weighs-In-For-the-First-Time-on-Organic-Foods-for-Children.aspx.