Eating Organic: Don’t be Fooled by the Media Frenzy

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Filed Under: Food and Nutrition, Nutrients and Additives
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Eating Organic: Don’t be Fooled by the Media Frenzy

I’ve been sitting back the past couple of weeks just watching the fallout of Stanford University research suggesting organic products aren’t worth the extra money consumers pay for them when it comes to nutritional content.

During that time, there’s been a lot of media hype with investigators reporting negligible difference between organic and conventionally-produced foods. Just like the hyperbolic headlines trying to debunk fish oil for heart attack prevention, minimizing the value of organic products and the nearly three billion dollar enterprise is just twisting the evidence.

  • First off, the data they used is questionable. The researchers whittled 5,000 articles on organic foods down to 237 they decided were relevant, but only 17 were human studies, and only three had clinical outcomes. The other 223 studies were on nutrient and contamination levels alone, instead of human health outcomes.
  • The maximum duration of any of the studies reviewed was only 2 years: too short to be able to evaluate any organic-nutrition-based health outcomes.
  • No firm measurements were established. The scope of this meta-analysis was too narrow and contamination wasn’t specifically defined. They didn’t look at a specific pesticide, how many pesticides were used, or the total exposure. We have yet to determine what a safe level of chemicals or their “residue” is over time, so to me no level can be guaranteed as “safe.”
  • There has yet to be a longitudinal, long-term study comparing health outcomes for a group of people who ate exclusively organic foods with those with an exclusively conventional diet.
  • Researchers report that there is no nutritional advantage to organic foods except higher phosphorus content. But they do admit that organic milk and chicken may contain more essential omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Finally, the authors themselves admitted organic options do measure up in terms of lowering your exposure to pesticide residue: 30% less contaminated in fact. But then they cite levels set by the US Department of Agriculture Guidelines and declare conventional foods still below them.

I’ve continually recommend organic fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy and foods over conventional ones for decades for those reasons, and I’m not changing my tune—or my buying habits—based on this latest research analysis.

The fact is organic foods that meet the US Department of Agriculture standards are pesticide-free, antibiotic-free, fertilizer-free, hormone-free, and contamination-free. And the primary reason I follow and recommend an organic diet is because our planet is inundated and overwhelmed by toxic wastes and chemicals that the only way I know to lower that total toxic burden is to go organic as much as you can.

Now it’s your turn: Will you stop opting for organic products based on this research?  

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