It's common knowledge that there are benefits to eating organic foods, but there's still some confusion over who should eat organic food.
A Measured Approach
First, if you are thinking about transitioning yourself and your family to organic foods, it's worth noting that you don't have to choose between all organic foods or no organic foods.
Research has shown that pesticides are used in different levels on different types of produce. As you begin your organic lifestyle, you'll want to choose those foods, such as apples, bell peppers and celery, that will give you most impact.
If it doesn't fit into your budget to buy all organic produce, as well as meat, dairy products and other foods, it is fine to start slowly or to start with the foods that are conventionally produced with the most chemicals. You'll find this still makes a big impact in your health and the health of the planet.
Who Should Eat Organic Food?
If you're still trying to decide if organic products are for you, here's a rundown of who should eat organic food and why.
Some studies have shown that exposure to pesticides from fields and food can lead to premature births. Even without that potential health risk, limiting baby's exposure to chemicals in the womb is a great idea to ensure your child's health.
Babies and young children are most at risk of developing health problems from exposure to chemicals, so treating them to an organic diet even before birth lessens their risk even further.
As mentioned above, children are in danger from putting too high of a chemical load on their bodies. Developing organs are less able to get rid of the toxins that are put into the body. Limiting chemical exposure through organic foods is a good way to take some stress off the body. Chemicals from pesticides and herbicides used on food might impair development of a child's organs. Some people also think the hormones and other chemicals added to conventionally produced meats and dairy products may lead to early sexual maturation.
Children who eat conventional foods have higher levels of chemicals in their bodies than do children fed organic or partly organic diets. It's certainly worth the extra money if you can ensure a healthier start for your kids.
The jury is still out on whether there's a benefit to eating organic foods for adults who aren't pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Studies haven't shown a lot of difference in the nutritional content of organic vs. conventional foods. There are also conventionally produced foods, especially grains and meat, that don't register as having pesticides or other chemicals on them in their finished state.
That having been said, there are other reasons to eat organic foods beyond potential health benefits. Organic foods put less strain on the environment than do conventionally produced foods. Eliminating pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals means those compounds aren't going into the groundwater, or into the lungs of farm workers.
When eating organic is combined with eating locally produced food whenever possible, your carbon footprint is reduced because your food did not have to travel very far to get to you. Some environmentalists say it is more important to eat local food than it is to eat organic food from the perspective of the planet, since the average piece of produce travels about 2,000 miles from field to table.