Should you go organic?
What this food label really means, and how to make the right choices for you and your baby
Best Bang for your Organic Buck
Despite the obvious environmental benefits and perceived health effects, expense stands in the way of many people going “all organic.” So the question becomes which organic foods to buy.
With fruits and vegetables the most pesticide-laden (see “The Dirty Dozen” at left), organic versions of these products now account for more than 40 percent of organic-food sales. Some produce such as apples and berries are more vulnerable to pests (and therefore more pesticide-protected) than “cleaner” produce like bananas, oranges and broccoli. But despite the price (organic baby spinach usually costs about 50 cents more per pound; organic carrots, 20 cents more), an organic label doesn’t guarantee that foods are pesticide-free. According to the USDA, 23 percent of organic produce contain pesticide residues. These chemicals can come from substances in the soil (some of which have been banned for decades but remain in the ground) or drift onto organic crops from nearby fields.
When it comes to livestock, conventionally raised animals are given hormones and antibiotics to prevent disease, enhance growth and increase milk production. Organically raised livestock don’t receive such treatments, and their feed is all-organic.
While your baby is developing, you’re right to want to eat the best foods possible, and choosing organic food makes sense if your budget allows. But remember, the most important thing is to maintain a healthy diet during pregnancy without making yourself crazy in the process.
The Dirty Dozen
Below are the top 12 most pesticide-laden foods when grown conventionally: 1. Peaches 2. Strawberries 3. Apples 4. Spinach 5. Nectarines 6. Celery 7. Pears 8. Cherries 9. Potatoes 10. Raspberries 11. Sweet bell peppers 12.Grapes (imported) From a study by the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research organization
Where to buy organic These days, you don’t have to look far to find organic food. Here are three great shopping options:
1. Farmers market The number of farmers markets featuring organic produce has nearly doubled since the government began tracking them in 1994; to find one near you, visit www.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets.
2. Natural- or specialty-food store Look for a Whole Foods (www.wholefoods.com) or Trader Joe’s (www.trader joes.com) store in your area.
3. Online grocer www.diamondorganics.com delivers to your door.