Planning on choosing an organic diet for your little ones? Keep this in mind.
WORDS STEFFI TAN
For Bibi Chia, principal dietitian at the Raffles Diabetes & Endocrine Centre personally, she feels that one of the biggest barriers for parents when opting to place organic foods over non-organic items into the grocery list would be their slightly higher prices, which reflects the cost of growing organic food (the growing process requires intensive labour and management as opposed to the use of chemicals). Not everyone can afford to go down this route.
The switch to organic does not have to be a 100 per cent one to profit from the benefits that an organic diet proffers. If necessary to pick and choose only parts of the meal to be organic, there are then certain foods that should be of higher priority on the switch list.
Suzanne Khor, a senior dietitian in private practice, offers up this simple guide for parents: If conventional methods of farming or processing a particular food item require more chemicals, then replace that particular food item with an organically-grown equivalent. Vice versa, there are some foods that do not use much pesticides or chemicals in their production process, and the non-organic version of these foods will work just fine.
For example, all three of our experts refer to lists by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Environmental Working Group (EWG). According to Chia, the EWG releases two lists every year:
The Dirty Dozen
They are 12 foods containing the highest level of pesticides. The top five in this year’s list are apples, peaches, strawberries, nectarines, and celery.
The Clean Fifteen
They are 15 foods that have the lowest pesticide levels. The top five in this year’s list are avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, and frozen sweet peas.
Fruits and vegetables included in ‘The Dirty Dozen’ are worth eating organic while fruits and vegetables in ‘The Clean Fifteen’ are items where going organic is not entirely necessary, further explains Vanessa McNamara, founder and lead dietitian at The Travelling Dietitian. She says that choosing organic versions of ‘The Dirty Dozen’ fruits and vegetables would be beneficial to the child’s health.
Overall, McNamara believes that the benefits of eating an abundance of fruit and vegetables far outweigh the risk of being exposed to pesticides. If the budget is an issue, she would prefer that parents ensure that their child eats a larger amount of non-organic fruit and vegetables, as opposed to a smaller amount of organic ones.
A further note would be to purchase organic versions of foods that your child consumes in great quantity. Even if each individual piece meets the government-stipulated pesticide level for non-organic foods, the total level of exposure to pesticides from this particular food item would still be high. It would thus be good to switch out this food product for its organic counterpart.