What is the benefit of organic foods? Why should I spend extra money for them?

Organic fruits and vegetables are raised by healthier methods, using no chemical and pesticides. The problem with pesticides is that children, pound for pound, eat more bananas and drink more apple juice than adults. This means that if a certain amount of pesticide has been deemed safe for a 150 pound adult, it probably isn’t safe for a 35 pound child. Very few adults drink apple juice or eat bananas with the fervor of toddlers. When children drink a quart of apple juice in a day and eat at least one banana, they’re ingesting, pound for pound, more poison in their food during the years when they have the least tolerance.

Unfortunately, because less organic food is grown and marketed, the prices are somewhat higher. There was a time when you could only buy organically-grown foods in health food stores. Today, little by little, supermarkets are devoting a few precious feet of produce space to this important health product. We need to make ourselves heard at the grocery store. Where customers create a demand, product becomes available. Where product is readily available, costs come down.

Our daughter was involved in a gardening project at her elementary school. The children were instructed on how to plant, tend, and harvest their own vegetables. The youngsters loved eating the vegetables they had raised, and they were proud of their efforts. You can get information on how to start such a program in you school by contacting the Outreach Coordinator for the Common Ground Garden Program, University for California Cooperative Extension for Los Angeles County, 2615 S. Grand Ave., #400, Los Angeles, CA 90007-2668.

We’ve started a garden plot at home too. It’s a wonderful way for me to become involved in the things that interest my daughter and, at the same time, teach her about what she should eat.

If you live in a city apartment, you can build your garden in pots on a windowsill or under fluorescent lights. Ask for guidance at your local garden center. There is nothing that compares with the taste of a tomato, warmed from the sun and picked by hand from your own garden.

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