Should You Buy Organic for Your Kids? Here's the Official Answer

You've probably found yourself in the middle of the green food debate right in the produce aisle: Do I really want to spend twice as much for these organic apples? Is organic lettuce really worth paying that much more for?

Price concerns aside, there was also that recent study out of Stanford University that said organic foods didn't really provide any added health benefits, anyway.

Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics is weighing in, and, after analyzing a slew of scientific reports regarding organic produce, dairy products and meat, the group agrees that organic foods and conventional foods don't differ when it comes to the amount of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins, lipids and other nutrients they contain, but pesticide levels are lower when you choose organic, and that can be beneficial for kids.

"What's most important is that children eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free dairy products, whether those are conventional or organic foods," Dr. Janet Silverstein, one of the report's lead authors and a member of the AAP Committee on Nutrition says in an AAP news release. "This type of diet has proven health benefits. Many families have a limited food budget, and we do not want families to choose to consume smaller amounts of more expensive organic foods and thus reduce their overall intake of healthy foods like produce."

The AAP's report, "Organic Foods: Health and Environmental Advantages and Disadvantages," will be published in the November 2012 issue of Pediatrics, and online today.

"At this point, we simply do not have the scientific evidence to know whether the difference in pesticide levels will impact a person’s health over a lifetime, though we do know that children -- especially young children whose brains are developing -- are uniquely vulnerable to chemical exposures," Dr. Joel Forman, also a lead author of the report and an AAP Council on Environmental Health member, says in the release.

So, where should parents spend their organic food dollars? The AAP recommends using organic buying guides from Consumer Reports or the Environmental Working Group as references.

"Pediatricians want families to have the information they need to make wise food choices," Forman adds in the release. "We hope that additional research will improve our understanding of these issues, including large studies that measure environmental exposures and neurodevelopment."

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