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The Organic Alternative

In 2001 scientists studying pesticide residues discovered that all of the 96 children in their research group had measurable levels of organophosphate metabolites in their urine, except for one child, as reported in Environmental Health Perspectives. Upon questioning this child’s parents, they discovered that the family bought exclusively organic produce.

Two years later, these same researchers found that pesticide concentrations in urine samples of children on conventional diets were approximately six times higher than in children on organic diets.

“Consumption of organic produce appears to provide a relatively simple way for parents to reduce their children’s exposure to organophosphate pesticides,” the researchers concluded.

Publishing in the same journal, another team found similar results. Median concentrations of metabolites for two neurotoxic pesticides, one of them chlorpyrifos, decreased to “nondetectable” levels immediately after the children were switched to an organic diet.

More research on the links between neurotoxin residues on foods and neurological diseases is needed. But while we wait for science to catch up with common sense, we have a healthy alternative, thanks to the farmers who choose organic production.
USDA certified organic foods repeatedly show up “clean,” except for the long-living breakdown products of organochlorines like DDT, which have even been found in the tissue of mammals in Antarctica.

This is a reminder that we are still paying for the mistakes made by our parents and grandparents who, decades ago, trusted the chemical companies’ promises. We do not yet know how my son’s generation will pay for today’s hubris. We only know that, somehow, they will.

We should think of every conventional food as bearing the label, “Warning: May Contain Traces of Pesticides That Can Harm Your Child,” just as food produced near nuts bears a similar warning. If it’s not organic, it could lead to long-term health consequences we are only beginning to understand. It is time for preschools, in addition to banning nuts, to start prohibiting the conventional foods that may contain traces of neurological toxins harmful to our children.

—Vallaeys, Charlotte. “School