Is organic the best choice for baby food?

GLENDALE (KABC) Some experts believe organic baby food is worth the cost. Others disagree.

"I love everything that is organic and homemade and this is really close to that," said Christine Vartanian.

Vartanian is feeding baby Giselle organic carrots.

"I'm an organic mom. We do organic -- almost everything," said Vartanian.

Organics continue to soar in popularity, leaving many parents wondering if organic baby food is necessary for a healthy child. Newport Beach pediatrician Dr. Stephen Abelowitz says no.

"The overwhelming consensus in the pediatric realm, by the American Academy of Pediatrics is, it doesn't seem like there is a nutritional benefit," said Dr. Abelowitz. "And even on a safety standpoint there seems to be a minimalized amount to justify the cost of using the organic food."

The US Department of Agriculture that certifies organic foods makes no claims or guarantees that organic foods are more nutritious or more safe than those conventionally grown. Yet dietitian Jackie Keller disagrees.

"There's a compelling argument to be made to making the organic choice when it's available," said Registered Dietitian Jackie Keller. "They're small people, very small people, and the pesticides that are contained in our food supply occur in greater concentrations in a smaller person."

In 2005, researchers at the University of Washington measured pesticide levels in the urine of 21 children who ate a non-organic diet. After five days on organics the pesticide levels decreased to levels below the EPA recommendations, until conventional foods were reintroduced.

"It really speaks to the whole issue of organic farming and the prevalence of pesticides in our soil. No matter how hard you wash, you can't take that away," said Keller.

Still, Abelowitz maintains that shouldn't be a concern.

"We are excellent machines of getting rid of different materials we ingest and the kidney is an area that does filter and get rid of things," said Dr. Abelowitz.

Another issue? Price.

"Cost can be 30 to 100-plus percent higher, and there are a lot of people that it is difficult to purchase that," said Abelowitz.

Some say if you don't choose to buy everything organic but want to avoid chemicals, you might consider buying these foods organic: Known as the "dirty dozen," these are the fruits and vegetables that contain the highest pesticide residues.

The dirty dozen, according to the Environmental Working Group (a non-profit organization)

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Imported Grapes
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

On the other hand, the produce that has been found to be consistently clean:

  • Papaya
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Bananas
  • Kiwi
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Asparagus
  • Mango
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet corn (frozen)
  • Avocado
  • Onions

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