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    Organic food best for kids

    Switching to organic foods provides children "dramatic and immediate" protection from widely used pesticides that are used on a variety of crops, according to a recent study by a team of American scientists.

    Concentrations of two organophosphate pesticides - malathion and chlorpyrifos - declined substantially in the bodies of primary school age children during a five-day period when organic foods were substituted for conventional foods.

    In New Zealand chlorpyrifos was found in 12 food groups in the latest Total Diet Survey of the Food Safety Authority. These were mostly fruit but also products containing wheat. Malathion was found 6 food groups, all containing wheat, apart from cream.

    The health effects of exposure to minute amounts of pesticides found in food are largely unknown, especially for children. Some research, however, suggests that the residue may harm the developing nervous system.

    Parents can minimize their children's exposure if they substitute organic products for those that contain the most residues. We advise parents to wash produce and peel skins if they buy conventional foods, but for foods that cannot be peeled, such as grapes and strawberries, it is especially important to buy organic. Also it is important to choose organic bread, especially in New Zealand where pesticide residues are high because of the post-harvest application of organophosphates. (See bread article here.)

    Study available at:

    Total Diet Survey available at:

    Breast milk better in organic eating mothers

    A Dutch study this year has found that the breast milk of mothers consuming organic dairy products and meat was higher in desirable fatty acids compared to mothers eating conventional dairy products and meat. Two fatty acids in particular, rumenic acid and trans-vaccenic acid, were higher in mothers eating at least 50% organic dairy products and meat, and even more so in those eating 90%. The researchers point out there is experimental evidence suggesting that these fatty acids might have anti-carcinogenic, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-diabetic and immune-modulating effects, as well as a favourable influence on body fat composition, especially when consumed at a very young age.

    Rist L A Mueller et al 2007: Influence of organic diet on the amount of conjugated linoleic acids in breast milk of lactating women in the Netherlands, British Journal of Nutrition, 97, 735–743

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