Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pesticides and ADHD...We're buying organic

I buy a lot of organic produce for my family.  The latest issue of Pediatrics just gave me another reason to justify the extra effort and $ it takes me to buy organic produce.

A study just published in the journal found  that children age 8-15 with higher levels of organophosphate metabolites in their urine were significantly more likely to be diagnosed as having ADHD.  You can read the study as published in Pediatrics here.  What are organophosphates?  They are neurotoxic chemicals used as pesticides on many fruits and vegetables sold in the US (also in some residential pesticides).  As stated in the intro of the study, the major exposure to pesticides for infants and children is diet, and children are considered to be at greatest risk to these chemicals because their developing brain is more susceptible to neurotoxins and the dose of pesticides per body weight is likely to be larger.

Does this study conclusively say that pesticide exposure causes ADHD?  No.  More specific studies are needed to establish whether this association is causal and not just an association.  However, the findings do suggest that organophosphate exposure, at levels common among kids in the US, may contribute to ADHD prevalence.

So what can we do about this?  DON'T STOP FEEDING KIDS FRUITS and VEGGIES!  Organic produce is grown without the use of pesticides and is available in many of the grocery stores we buy from anyway.  Plus, the more we as consumers DEMAND organic produce, the more grocery stores will carry fruits and veggies grown this way!  Also, as summer approaches, farmer's markets are a great place to buy produce because many of local farmers do not use pesticides (just ask!).

Do you have to start buying ALL organic?  Probably not.  Some fruits and veggies are (on average) more contaminated than others.  You can learn more at, the website of the Environmental Working Group or just click here for their handy shopper's guide  (I carry it with me to the grocery store so I know what to splurge on and what to buy regular):

What are the drawbacks of organic produce? 
1. It may cost more  
2. There may be less of a selection of out-of-season produce at various times during the year 
3. You may have to hunt for the good organic produce suppliers in your area.  

I have decided these are small prices to pay for healthier food, and I have also found that by doing a little investigating, I can find the organic produce products I need at very good prices at a few trusty stores in the city.  My favorite places to buy great quality, cheap(er) organic produce:
*Produce Exchange at Midtown Global Market  (they have AWESOME weekly deals)
*Sam's Club!  (Who would have guessed--the best prices on organic salad, spinach, and carrots in the if I could just get them to expand their selection!)
*Rainbow Foods (believe it or not, their organic line is great and very inexpensive)
*Trader Joe's
*Minneapolis Farmer's Market (Open everyday now--be sure to ask about pesticides, then, go get those veggies!)

Big producers of baby food are also providing organic pureed foods now that are generally available at big stores, or I would make my own purees for my kids with organic apples, peaches, pears that I bought from the store.

We can make a difference.  Remember, we vote 3 times everyday with the food we buy and eat.

1 comment:

SnoWhite {Finding Joy in My Kitchen} said...

thanks for this post! I carry those lists with me in the grocery store too.

We've had success with Sam's Club -- their carrots and spinach are great. And, I certainly agree about voting with our spending -- if we demand it, the grocery stores will provide it.