One of the biggest health concerns is how pesticides in normal processed foods affect children. These health concerns involve different diseases like diabetes or personality disorders, such as ADHD. A study done in 2010 at Harvard University by four doctors: Maryse F. Bouchard, Robert O. Wright, David C. Bellinger, and Marc G. Weisskopf states,“ That even tiny, allowable amounts of a common pesticide class can have dramatic effects on brain chemistry. Organophosphate insecticides (OP’s) are among the most widely used pesticides in the U.S. & have long been known to be particularly toxic for children. This is the first study to examine their effects across a representative population with average levels of exposure. Finding: Kids with above-average pesticide exposures are 2x as likely to have ADHD” (Bouchard, et al).Foods with pesticides in them can have a negative effect in children, which can result in higher chances of them being diagnosed with ADHD as explained in the quote above. When interviewing Michelle Gottlieb a health sustainability consultant at Healthcare Without Harm, she spoke about a study called the “Market Basket study” and said,“In this ongoing FDA program, it showed when children were only eating regularly processed foods for one week their urine samples had a high level of pesticides. When switched to an organic diet for one week the level of pesticides in the children’s urine was almost completely gone.”
These types of studies are what more families should look at when trying to decided whether it is healthier to feed their children processed foods versus organic foods.
Another possible outcome of processed foods is obesity rates. In 2009, the FDA stated, “Approximately 13% of the nation's youth aged 6-19 years are overweight.” Since then, school systems have switched to smaller proportions and have certain restrictions to what can and can’t be sold inside the school. Sadly, most schools have not switched to organic foods because it is not financially manageable with their budgets. Another step the FDA has taken to try to help children become healthier is releasing programs through schools like the “Eat Smart, Play Hard”(Food, Total Diet Study) campaign, and promoting comprehensive implementation of “Team Nutrition”(Food, Total Diet Study). No study has specifically tied processed foods with obesity, but studies have shown that people who do eat organic are less at risk for diseases like obesity.
The last important aspect of switching to organic food is helping agriculture and the environment. Agriculturally raising animals involves lots of hormonal supplements and pesticides. When doing this, the meat that eventually gets taken from the animals is full of these supplements that lead to the previous diseases talked about. Another factor of this is being ecologically friendly. “Growing foods uses a lot of energy and fossil fuels which results in pollution,” says Michelle Gottlieb. Being in the 21st century most people have become very eco-friendly, but have failed to notice how our food is also affecting our environment and by switching they could be helping out. Another ecological factor would be the pricing of these two food choices. Yes, organic is more expensive, but also takes more work because it isn’t as easy and takes more time. Also, if more people switched the price would most likely go down to how much normally grown food is because that is what the majority of the population is buying. All of these are factors that come into play when families are trying to decide which to choose.
Making a decision like this is very tough in terms of finances, but it’s necessary. Pricing and availability is a very big problem for organic food, and regularly grown food is available anywhere which makes it more convenient. Both options have pros and cons but families have to decide which pros make more sense to them. It comes down to families having to decide whether saving money or maintaining a healthy lifestyle is more important to them. To also help make differences noticeable the FDA, EPA, and USDA are there to help families. This is a very serious problem in the United States and could help many families reduce risks of serious health problems, save money, and become more informed in their health lives. All of the issues of diseases, obesity rates, and animal agricultural issues should be a good argument for families to decide between organic and regularly processed food products.