In infants and children:
• Promote healthy development of the endocrine system, which regulates blood sugar and calorie intake.
• Establish taste-based preferences in children for nutrient-dense, flavorful foods.
• Eliminate exposure to 180 pesticides that can disrupt the endocrine system.
• Help reinforce a sense of fullness and reduce the intake of unneeded calories.
• Lessen damage done by free radicals, lowering risk of inflammation-related diseases like diabetes.
• Protect the brain from neurological damage that occurs with aging, preserving memory and cognitive skills.
WHAT IT MEANS: As the report itself states, eating organic food doesn’t mean you don’t have to exercise or consume fewer calories if you want to lose weight. But choosing organic can be a step towards forging a new relationship with food, which doctors and nutritionists say is a critical move for anyone struggling with obesity or diabetes.
Here are some suggestions for taking your first organic steps:
• Pregnant? Eat organic. A child’s tendency to become obese or develop diabetes could start with changes that occur in the womb, so it’s important to keep hormone-disrupting chemicals out of Mommy’s system. Find local farms and farmer’s markets at Local Harvest. Buying directly from an organic farmer will also cut your costs.
• Don’t be the first in line. If you’re keeping a close eye on your food budget—and who isn’t these days—find some organic bargains by timing your purchase of produce so you buy towards the end of the harvest. The first week those succulent local tomatoes find their way to store shelves and farm stands, it’s very tempting to load up. But if you wait a week or two, the prices will drop drastically.
• Spend less on the stuff that doesn’t help your body. If you stop buying processed foods (which aren’t good for you, are more expensive, and produce a lot of waste with the packaging), and put your savings into buying organic produce and cheaper sources of protein, such as beans and lentils, you can spend the same amount and cook meals seeping with nutrients.
• Try SNAP for CSAs. Many organic farmers are starting to accept SNAP, aka food stamps, at farmer’s markets and for community-supported agriculture (CSA) shares. CSAs usually charge an upfront fee, and then shareholders receive a box of in-season produce each week. Some CSA programs are also offering payment plans to help people in low income brackets afford healthy food. You can also find a friend or two to split the cost if your CSA doesn’t offer alternate payment options. (Check Local Harvest for a CSA in your area.)