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Organic Makeover

Lu's study included 23 children aged 3 to 11 in Seattle's suburbs. The kids took daily urine tests for about two weeks. The urine samples were checked for traces of the two pesticides.

The kids ate their normal diets for three days. Then, they switched to a mainly organic diet for five days. Lastly, the children resumed their normal conventional diet.

The researchers bought the organic foods at a local store. They simply chose organic versions of foods the kids typically ate.

The organic grocery list included fresh fruits and vegetables, juices, processed fruit or vegetable items (such as salsa), and wheat- or corn-based items (such as pasta, cereal, popcorn, or chips).

Organic meats and dairy products weren't provided since they aren't regularly found to contain the type of pesticides being studied, the researchers note.

Pesticide Levels Dropped

When the kids started eating the organic foods, traces of the two pesticides immediately vanished from most of their urine samples. Those pesticide levels remained undetectable until the children resumed their conventional diets, the study shows.

The researchers didn't probe or note any health problems in the kids on either diet.

The kids' parents had told the researchers that they didn't use pesticides in their homes. That suggests that the children were "exclusively" exposed to the pesticides from food, write Lu and colleagues.

Lowering Pesticide Exposure

The EPA offers these tips to reduce consumption of pesticides on foods:

  • Wash and scrub all fresh fruits and vegetables under running water.
  • Soaking produce isn't the same. It doesn't have the abrasive effect of running water.
  • Peel fruits and vegetables, when possible.
  • Discard the outer leaves of leafy vegetables.
  • Trim fat from meat and skin from poultry. Some pesticide residues collect in fat.
  • Eat a variety of foods from a variety of sources. Doing so will provide a better mix of nutrients and reduce the likelihood of exposure to a single pesticide.

Not all pesticide residues can be removed by washing.

Washing produce (including fresh organic fruits and vegetables) will also help reduce dirt and bacteria. Don't use detergent or soaps to wash produce, notes the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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