Why every parent should consider organic food

Babies, toddlers and children are at a heightened risk from exposure to pesticides and chemicals.
Babies, toddlers and children are at a heightened risk from exposure to pesticides and chemicals. Photo: Getty Images

This is sponsored content for Bellamy's.

Over the past few years, organic food has become increasingly popular.

Recent research found that more than six in 10 Australian households currently buy organic products in any given year. Experts predict that this figure will continue to rise, alongside our growing appetite for healthy unprocessed foods.

But what do we need to know and understand about eating organic?

Organic foods are grown using farming methods that differ to traditional ones.

Unlike traditional farming, organic farmers don't use synthetic fertilisers, irradiation to kill pests and give food a longer shelf life, growth hormones or antibiotics. They don't use synthetic pesticides, and don't produce genetically engineered crops.

Increasing availability of organic food should be particularly welcome by parents given babies, toddlers and children are at a heightened risk from exposure to pesticides and chemicals.

A baby's immature liver and kidneys can't remove nasties from the body as effectively as an adult's can. Pesticide residues may be present in the body for longer periods of time which could impact health and growth.

"When infants and toddlers are growing and developing rapidly, choosing certified organic food helps to reduce their exposure to pesticides and chemicals," says paediatric dietitian and mother, Susie Burrell.

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"At a time in their lives when their immune system is developing, organic foods help give infants the best chance of reducing allergy risk and an optimally functioning immune system long term."

Research backs up Burrell's claims. A 2014 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that organically grown crops were 48 per cent less likely to contain cadmium, a toxic heavy metal that accumulates in the liver and kidney. And the percentage of omega 3 fatty acid in all types of organic meat was 47 per cent higher than conventionally raised meat.

"Higher antioxidant content in some organic versus non-organic foods equates to eating up to an extra two serves of nutrient rich fresh fruit and vegetables every day," says Burrell.

"Research also shows that nutrient contents are higher in some organic produce, especially in fruits, vegetables and dairy foods."

Despite all these benefits, Burrell says that we're still confused about what organic means, and there's the pre-conceived idea that eating organic foods is more expensive. The good news is that this needn't be the case.

"The key is to buy less overall," advises Burrell. "Focus on quality, especially when it comes to fruit, vegetables, dairy, eggs and meat, and buy what's in season."

Burrell notes that the other important consideration when choosing organic foods for your infant is whether they have the highest levels of accreditation.

There are two certification bodies in Australia: ACO (Australian Certified Organic) and NASAA (National Association for Sustainable Agriculture in Australia).

"NASAA is Australia's principle certifying body for organic and bio-dynamic produce," says Burrell. "It ensures that the entire organic supply chain maintains its integrity from paddock to plate."

Organic foods can be found at local markets and stalls. However, the widest variety is located on your supermarket shelf, making it easier for shoppers to make the best choices for their family.

Brands such as Bellamy's Organic offer a range of organic snacks, such as apple snacks, that tick all the boxes for taste, health and appeal. Additionally, they are made with organic apples direct from Tasmania, reducing food miles and supporting our local Australian farmers.

"Modern life means we're exposed to more fast food and processed food," says Burrell. "Anything we can do to boost overall nutritional intake, especially for our little ones, is a good thing for health and immune function long term."

So, isn't it time you considered organic foods?

Founded by an Australian mother, Bellamy's Organic provides certified organic Australian made formula and baby food for the precious first years. Our team of experts are dedicated and passionate about creating high quality, nutritionally balanced and delicious food. Click here to explore our great new range of certified organic food, including our new kids custards with no added sugar and our famous baby rice, now with prebiotic.

With Bellamy's Organic, you can be confident that you are giving your little ones a pure start to life.