Editorial: Eating more produce important, organic or not

Yet another group has weighed in on organic fruits and vegetables.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said pesticide-free food doesn't translate to healthier people.

An earlier study by Stanford University said eating organic food reduces exposure to pesticides, but "the amount measured in conventionally grown produce was within safety limits."

All sides can agree that unless you grow your own, organic food does tend to be more expensive. Supporters say it tastes better, often is fresher, and has less impact on soil and the environment because of a lack of pesticides and shorter travel distances from farm to store.

Detractors note the label "organic" is not well defined and that the price difference and lack of noticeable health benefits make it a questionable and expensive choice. (Ag journalist Alan Guebert describes organic as "generally grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers or routine use of antibiotics or growth hormones.")

Nutritionists agree Americans eat fewer than the recommended amount of fruits, vegetables and whole grains overall, regardless of the food's origin. Eating more of those items, whether they are canned, frozen, fresh or from a farmer's market, is of paramount importance to a balanced diet.

If you're worried about pesticides and pennies, the pediatrician's group recommends buying organic versions of foods that use higher amounts of pesticides — apples, peaches, strawberries, celery — and buying traditional versions of other items.

Organic or not, you need to know what you're eating and how much is reasonable. If you're not sure, or are embarrassed to ask, go to www.choosemyplate.gov. The site, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has all sorts of fun and informative ways to learn about starting and maintaining a good diet.

— The (Bloomington, Ill.) Pantagraph

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