Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Organic fruit and vegetables are no better for children, pediatricians claim

Organic fruits and vegetables are not necessarily safer or more nutritious than conventional foods, a leading pediatricians group has claimed.

Parents who want to reduce their kids' exposure to pesticides may seek out organic produce, but science has not proven that eating pesticide-free food makes people healthier, the American Academy of Pediatrics said.

'Theoretically there could be negative effects, especially in young children with growing brains,' said Dr. Janet Silverstein, a co-author on the report.

Yet Silverstein, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville, added that rigorous scientific evidence is lacking.  'We just can't say for certain that organics is better without long-term controlled studies,' she said.

The report was published online on Monday in Pediatrics and echoes a Stanford University study released last month.

That research concluded that while eating organic fruits and vegetables can reduce pesticide exposure, the amount measured in conventionally grown produce was within safety limits.

Since organic foods tend to be costlier, a good strategy for penny-pinching parents concerned about pesticides is to buy only organic versions of foods with the most pesticide residue – including apples, peaches, strawberries and celery, Silverstein said.

But the pediatricians group says higher prices on organic foods might lead some parents to buy fewer fruits and vegetables over all.

They fear this is not a good strategy since both have health benefits including reducing risks for obesity, heart disease and some cancers.

Parents should aim to provide their families a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whether organic or not, along with plenty of whole grains and low-fat or fat-free dairy products, the report says.


Republicans Move to Toss Out Michelle Obama’s Skimpy School Lunch Menu

Congressional Republicans are taking action against Michelle Obama’s school lunch menu, which was implemented by the USDA in August.

The modifications to the standards have left students hungry and dissatisfied with their lunch options, according to reports conducted throughout the nation. has reported about students protesting, a cafeteria employee saying she and her colleagues are barred from serving seconds and forced to throw away extra food, and the National Education Association stating schools should use tactics to “creatively engage and educate students” on the new requirements.

The Hill reported that Congressional Republicans are asking what U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is doing to fix the problem his department has created. Apparently his solution of having students eat snacks isn’t enough.

"[T]here remains great concern with the amount of food waste generated at school cafeterias, much of it brought on by requiring students to take fruits and vegetables rather than simply offer them," Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.), Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) told USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in a letter sent Thursday, The Hill reported.

"This is a waste of federal, state and local funds and is contrary to the law's goal of feeding as many low-income and hungry children as possible," they wrote. "Once again, we are aware USDA has attempted to address this situation by allowing greater choice in reimbursable meals, but students should not have to take additional food if they have no intention of eating it."

The response from some schools is to install “trash cams” to watch students throwing food away. So instead of changing the rules that aren’t working, they’re going to treat students like prisoners under surveillance.

Congressman Steve King (R-IA) has even introduced the “No Hungry Kids Act,” which would repeal the new standards and end the controversy.

As the controversy grows, Mitt Romney’s campaign has remained silent on the issue. Why?


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