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NEWS |Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2004
Organic foods avoid pesticide effects

When people try to add vegetables to their diet, not only are they faced with the decision on what varieties to eat, but also how they want their vegetables grown.

Organic foods, which are foods grown without the use of pesticides or artificial chemicals, have risen in popularity as people become wary of what effect chemicals can have on the body.

Empirical evidence showing the advantages of organic foods is still debated. The long-term effect of pesticides in foods remains unknown.

Some of these chemicals used to fertilize and grow produce may contain hormone-disrupting chemicals that can cause behavioral and mood changes as well as cancer. In Europe, pesticides such as lindane and carbendazim have now been banned for their effects on human hormone production.

Some health agencies recommend pregnant women should eat organic food to reduce exposure to chemicals. One study by the Royal Society in Britain said eating organic food reduced exposure to harmful chemicals.

Yet other groups say there is no evidence to support nutritional superiority of organic food. The Food Standards Agency reported in 2000 that organic food does not differ in safety or effect on the consumer from other commercially produced food.

Another study, however, by Virginia Worthington, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore comparing the composition of vegetables grown under different farming conditions showed organically grown produce contained more minerals and vitamins.

Among all the vegetables tested, organically grown vegetables were 29 percent higher in magnesium, 27 percent higher in vitamin C and 21 percent higher in iron. In the same study, organic crops had fewer nitrates and toxic heavy metals than their counterparts.

Copyright © 2004 The Herald-Dispatch


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