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05/19/2010

Going Organic For The Kids

727px-Plums There was a time when I didn't buy into the idea of organic. It was way too expensive, and besides, man-made and genetically engineered were only ways to improve our health and futures, right? Better living through science! I didn't see what all of the fuss was about.

And then I had kids.

I still didn't buy organic when my older daughter was a baby. Organic baby food was just beginning to go mainstream, but the costs seemed awfully high for benefits that I couldn't even guarantee were there. But as more and more reports came out offering up the benefits of organic foods, I began to pay attention and even started allocating some of our grocery budget to organic food, although at first it was mostly limited to organic meats.

When my older daughter was diagnosed with autism, I spent a period of time worrying that I had somehow caused her autism by eating the wrong things during my pregnancy, or not breastfeeding long enough, or doing some other thing that led to her becoming so sensitive to her world. My younger daughter was a newborn at the time, and I vowed that I would do everything different with her, starting with breastfeeding for longer and organic baby food. 

Today I read that a new research study has revealed a link between pesticides and attention-deficit disorder(ADD or ADHD) in children. Children with high levels of a certain pesticide in their urine were twice as likely to have ADHD than those who had low levels. While more research will be needed to confirm this link, it was strong enough that study authors are encouraging families to consider organic fruits and vegetables for their children. A previous study in 2008 found that children who were switched from conventional to organic fruits and vegetables saw a dramatic drop in pesticide levels in their urine.

My family doesn't eat strictly organic. It's still too expensive for us. But we have found ways to make it more cost effective, including growing some of our own vegetables, shopping at local farmers' markets, and buying a share in a local CSA. Sure, the kids still eat McDonald's from time to time, but we try to keep the majority of their meals as free from pesticides, artificial colors and artificial flavors as possible.

While it's impossible to say for certain that my younger daughter has benefited from a more organic diet, I believe she has. Thankfully, she has been evaluated and shows no signs of autism. She's been very healthy from the start, and she's proving to be a smart little girl. My older daughter's behaviors have also improved significantly with this diet. I can't credit reduced pesticide levels with any of this, however, I know that every little bit counts, and seeing the results of this latest study gives me yet one more reason to continue our goal of eating more organic foods.

Ten years ago, I never would have seen myself as a supporter of organic foods. Being a parent has completely changed my views, and thanks to my children I'm trying to provide a healthier lifestyle for all of us.

This is an original Ohio Moms Blog post.

When not outside trying to keep her poor broccoli plants alive with her brown thumb, Christina can also be found at her personal blog, A Mommy Story.

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