First and foremost, let’s define what organic foods are. Organic food includes produce grown without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides and not irradiated or containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organic produce may be more nutritious than conventional produce as the soil in which they grow in is richer in nutrients. Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products are produced from healthier animals that are fed organic, non-GMO feed, are not given antibiotics or growth hormones and have better living conditions. Organic food is also better for the environment as food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water.
Organic food is preferable for babies and young children as they are particularly vulnerable to chemical exposure. Their bodies are small and fragile, and their organs are not developed fully yet. Recent research suggests that even low levels of pesticide exposure can affect young children’s neurological and behavioral development. Evidence shows a link between pesticides and neonatal reflexes, psychomotor and mental development and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Pesticides have also been shown to affect a variety of body systems, including reproductive, endocrine, immune and respiratory. Choosing organic food is one of the greatest ways to reduce chemical exposure. Ideally, education about pesticide exposures should begin prior to pregnancy.
Organic food is costlier than conventional foods. If you are on a budget and wish to buy organic, there are a few things you can do. You can choose to buy only the least contaminated foods, reduce your consumption of conventional meat and dairy products, cut down on processed foods and buy higher-quality products, buy frozen food, buy in bulk or buy organic food only for your children. You can also look for coupons or buy from major grocery store chains, shop at your local farmers’ market, join a community-supported agriculture (CSA) group or food co-op or, even better, have a garden and teach your children how to plant, take care of and harvest plants. Not only it’s a great way to have high-quality products right at home, but it’s also a terrific opportunity to teach your children, connect with them and build an appreciation for different produce and nature.
Local food, on the other hand, can be just as nutritious – if not better – than organic foods. It depends on the food itself. Local food requires eating seasonally. Local food is fresher, tastes better and is more nutritious as this food has had a shorter time between harvest and being on your table and, therefore, loses fewer nutrients. Eating local also supports the area farms and economy, benefits the environment, promotes food safety and helps to build more connected communities. Eating locally and seasonally is also a beautiful and natural way to stay connected with the cycle of nature and feed our body with what it truly needs.