Organic Foods May Not Be Healthier, Report Says

Filed under: Nutrition: Health, In The News, Mealtime, Going Green

berries

Is organic produce worth the investment? Maybe not. Credit: rhett maxwel, Flickr

Forking over $5 for a pint of organic berries isn't going to make any difference in your overall health – so says a new report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

An independent review of 162 scientific studies, commissioned by England's Food Standards Agency, concludes that there is no nutritional difference between organic and ordinary foods, even when it comes to vitamin C, calcium and iron, according to BBC News. The same goes for meat, eggs and dairy.

"Ensuring people have accurate information is absolutely essential in allowing us all to make informed choices about the food we eat," said Gill Fine, FSA director of consumer choice and dietary health. "What it shows is that there is little, if any, nutritional difference between organic and conventionally produced food and that there is no evidence of additional health benefits from eating organic food."

What the report doesn't address are the dangers of pesticides and other chemicals like fertilizers, which some experts say is a significant oversight.

Judy Converse, Denver mom and the author of "Special Kids Eat Right," told ParentDish that even small amounts of agricultural chemicals can be harmful over time. "We all want to minimize our exposures to toxins, which can accumulate in fatty tissues like liver, kidney, nerve and brain," she said via e-mail.

As a licensed, registered dietitian who specializes in children, Converse said she has, "seen some exquisitely sensitive children who do seem to only tolerate organic, nitrate/nitrite-free, or antibiotic-free products."

Everyone wants what's best for their kids, but times are tight and organic food is pricey. The New York Times points out that organic bread can cost as much as $4.50 a loaf, and a gallon of organic milk will run you about $7. Unless you have lots of discretionary income, organic food could fall into the "luxury" column on your balance sheet.

"When it is affordable, I try to buy organic," wrote one ParentDish Twitter follower. "But we are on a tight budget and I have to buy what gets me the most for my $."

So what can parents do? Choose wisely, said Converse. Splurge on organic berries, lettuce, melons and tomatoes, but stick to ordinary bananas and bread.

Also, consider adding more dairy to your family's diet .According to BBC News, Australian researchers observed 1,343 families in England and Scotland over the course of 65 years, and found that children who had a higher daily intake of calcium were healthier as adults. A pint of low-fat milk, a container of low-fat yogurt and a small piece of cheese every day will do the trick.

What parents shouldn't do is feel guilty about not serving organic foods at every meal.

"Whatever works for a family and helps kids be happier, healthier and empowered, that's where it's at," Converse said.

Read more about healthy eating on AOL Food.

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