Non-Organic Foods: Naughty or Nice?

Organic food is healthier than conventional food. Many people believe that the term “organic” is just a marketing scheme created by the food industry, which is why numerous certifications have been created to ensure organic authenticity. It is considered better for the environment to choose organic. Another argument that is often considered when choosing organic food is if cheaper conventional food is less healthy, or if it is worth paying a few dollars extra for that special label. Some studies show that the offspring of pregnant women who ate organic do not have a significant difference from the offspring of those who ate conventional food in regards to their mental health, but other studies show that pregnant women exposed to pesticides from their surroundings have a higher risk of giving birth to babies who will develop autism or a lower IQ (Moyer). If proof is found that pesticides used on conventional foods are dangerous, that organic food is beneficial to the lifestyle of youth, and that it is indeed safer for the environment to go organic, that would demonstrate that organic food is healthier.

         Pesticides are often a concern among parents of younger children. Many people confuse “organic” and “pesticide-free”, which are two counterintuitive terms, because organic produce can contain certain types of pesticides (Langlois). These pesticides are generally comprised of toxic chemicals that leave a residue on produce. All fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed to minimize toxin consumption. The toxins are feared to affect the mental health of younger children, whose brains haven’t been fully developed yet. A prospective study, the Agricultural Health Study has shown that pesticides are positively associated with depression (Beard). Another study that linked ADHD to pesticide exposure demonstrated that children who had a higher amount of the pesticide in their urine had about 1.5 times the likelihood of having ADHD. These studies did not involve pesticides from food, but rather from general exposure from living near farms or the workplace. But why risk eating foods covered in toxic residue when there are pesticide-free foods available?

         Organic food is supposedly healthier for today’s youth, but doesn’t really make a difference. Young children are exposed to many things that are more growth-impairing than pesticides, such as viruses and bacteria found in schools and from common hygienic habits. A 2012 Stanford study showed that organic produce doesn’t cause a significant health difference than conventional food (Greene). If one can afford it, they should buy organic produce for the environment, but it might not make much difference for the health of their children.

         Buying organic is better for the environment because it promotes organic farming. Conventional agriculture has been known to erode the soil as well as harm the local surroundings (Om Organics). Organic produce does have some negatives on the environment, such as the fact that the transportation required for organic produce is generally longer than for conventional and locally grown produce (University of Alberta). Also, the organic industry is getting larger every year and all mass production has a negative effect on the environment, which is another negative for the environment. For every positive, there will be negatives to go along with it.

         For any produce, you should consider the pros and cons of buying organic or conventional. If you have kids and it works with your budget, you may want to purchase more organic foods than conventional. If you care for the environment, it may be better to purchase locally grown foods as opposed to foods from a different location. Since both organic and conventional produce may have residue from pesticides, fruit and vegetables should be thoroughly washed before consumption.

Works Cited

Beard, John D.1,2, et al. “Pesticide Exposure And Depression Among Male Private Pesticide Applicators In The Agricultural Health Study.” Environmental Health Perspectives 122.9 (2014): 984-991. Science Full Text Select (H.W. Wilson). Web. 27 Nov. 2016.

Greene, Alan. “Why Organic Is the Right Choice for Parents.” N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Langlois, Maureen. “Organic Pesticides: Not An Oxymoron.” N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Moyer, Melinda Wenner. “Skip the Organic Aisle. Conventional Produce Is Good for Your Kids.” Slate Magazine. N.p., 2014. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Om Organics. “Conventional Farming – Degraded Soil.” Om Organics – Harm from Conventional Farming – Degraded Soil. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Shute, Nancy. “Docs Say Choose Organic Food To Reduce Kids’ Exposure To Pesticides.” N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

University of Alberta. “Organic Food Miles Take Toll On Environment.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 June 2007.