Shopping for Organic Foods

by Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers

When shopping for your family, you should consider that per pound of body weight, babies consume about 60 times more fruits and vegetables than adults. This fact, combined with undeveloped digestive and immune systems, put young children at the greatest health risk for pesticide residues. To minimize the effects, you might consider buying organic for those foods that your children eat regularly.

Produce: Pesticides levels vary in produce. Here is a list of common fruits and veggies that are high in pesticide residues*. Because of the naturally high levels, you might consider buying organic for these foods:

  • Apples
  • Bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Grapes (imported)
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Potatoes
  • Red Raspberries
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries

On the flip side, these fruits and veggies are commonly found to have the lowest levels of pesticide residues*:

  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn (sweet)
  • Kiwi
  • Mangos
  • Onions
  • Papayas
  • Pineapples
  • Peas (sweet)

*Source: The Environmental Workers Union

Dairy, egg and meat products: While produce is often associated with organic food, there is a growing interest among consumers in dairy, egg and meat products. The reason for increased interest is quite simple -- consumers want to know their food is safe.

The strict guidelines for producing organic foods are the answer to consumer concerns. Organic eggs and dairy products are readily available in supermarkets. Horizon, Stonyfield Farm and Eggland's Best are just a few national brands. Organic meats may be harder to find. Look for them in natural products stores, farmer's markets and through home delivery services.

Processed foods: Many stores are stocking their shelves with organically processed foods too. In order to make it easier to shop for organic products, the USDA has defined special labeling:

- "100% Organic" label means made with 100% organic ingredients;
- "Organic" label means made with at least 95% organic ingredients;
- "Made With Organic Ingredients" label means made with a minimum of 70% organic ingredients with strict restrictions on the remaining 30% including no GMOs (genetically modified organisms); and
- Products with less than 70% organic ingredients may list organically produced ingredients on the side panel of the package, but may not make any organic claims on the front of the package.

Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children and founders of Fresh Baby, creators of products such as homemade baby food kits, baby food cookbooks, baby food and breast milk storage trays, breastfeeding reminders, and child development diaries.

Copyright © Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.