Study: Organic Not More Nutritious. So What!

The organic and conventional food camps have another new study to argue over. This one is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:

A “disappointingly small” number of well-designed studies have looked at whether organic foods may have health benefits beyond their conventional counterparts’ … Those trials showed no strong evidence that organic eating boosted antioxidant activity…. read more…

What are the facts, in one line? Not enough evidence, mostly as a result of not enough research.

What are the headlines we’ll be seeing: Organic is not healthier for you.

What you need to know: The reason people go for organic food has very little to do with the existence of more nutrients:

  1. For many consumers, it’s the fear of the negative health effects of pesticides, herbicides, hormones, and genetic modification that drives them to organic.
  2. Eco-conscious shoppers are concerned about the sustainability factor – organic farming methods help protect the environment and guarantee that next generations can enjoy clean air, clean water, and less poisonous chemicals wherever they go. Which brings us back to point number 1.
  3. Taste – If you’ve bitten into a vine ripened heirloom tomato, chewed on a meat cut from a grass fed organically grown animal, or lightly salted a hard boiled organic egg with an intensely orange yolk, you know it’s hard to compare to the conventional fare sold at half price in the supermarket.

So whether future studies refute or prove the nutrition benefits of organics, there are plenty of existing reasons to opt in today. Especially if you can afford the price differential.

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  • Jason

    People cite reasons number one and number three as to why they drink bottled water, so I don’t see those as good “reasons” why people should choose organic.

  • linda richards

    Love Fooducate. Keep up the good work!

    About organic foods. Strictly speaking, eating fewer toxic chemicals should be considered more nutritious than eating foods with pesticide residue and hormones. You need to be alive to fully use the vitamins and minerals in food of any type.

  • carol

    I don’t think bottled water and farm-grown produce (organic or not) have anything to do with each other, including what are valid reasons for choosing them. Plus, bottled water is really a convenience thing for most people (at least in countries with good municipal water) — if you’re too rushed/lazy to fill your own bottle, your other choices when out and about aren’t great: put your face under the faucet at a gas station, drink from an ancient gray metal “cooler” water fountain full of bacteria and who-knows-what-else, etc. Also, when organic fruits/vegs are smaller and more local they will indeed contain more nutrients by percent weight — smaller produce concentrates the nutrients, and less travel/distribution time means nutrients are still close to their peak.

  • kc

    My main reason for choosing organic produce instead of conventional is our corn allergy. Organic produce is less likely to contain corn in the form of corn wax, citric acid and ethylene gas. Mind you, the organic sticker is no guarantee against corntamination (some GMO corn derivatives are approved for use on organic meats and produce), but it does mean that I will not accidentally buy the genetically modified produce on the market. The organic designation in produce still means that it cannot be genetically modified, though I wonder how long that will hold true. I really prefer local to organic because most of the corn treatment is only done to produce that has to travel.

  • GrowingRaw

    I completely agree what you don’t get when you choose to eat organic food is just important as what you do get. Avoiding consuming pesticides with my food is a high priority for me, especially as the jury is still out on the long term effects of chemical cocktails in foods. I researched a number of studies (from both sides) several months ago and collected the links in this article about the health benefits of organic food. Even if the nutritional differences are minimal, I’d still choose organic for ethical reasons.

  • Amy Pearson

    Eating organic food is a great step towards a
    healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, many organic fruits and vegetables are a bit
    more costly. To combat the increased cost, and to ensure that the food you are
    eating is 100% organic, you may want to start your own organic garden.