Is Buying Organic a Waste of Money?!

The Stanford University Medical School team published a paper on the nutritional quality and safety of conventional versus organic food earlier this month (http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1355685) and concluded that:

“The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods,” and “Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”

 

There may be a few problems with the study, such as the definition of “significantly more nutritious,” for starters.  Read The Devil in the Details (http://organicfarms.wsu.edu/blog/devil-in-the-details/) by Chuck Benbrook for a recap of shortcomings in the study and a different view of what the numbers mean.

 

Aside from the nutrition question, there are proponents of organic farming because it’s more environmentally sustainable than conventional farming, keeping pesticides out of our soil and water, and our bodies.

 

This leads us to the second finding, “Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.” In fact, 38% of conventional produce tested positive for pesticide residue vs. 7% of organic produce. Limiting exposure to pesticides is particularly important in children. Even the EPA admits that children are at greater risk for adverse affects because they have limited resistance to pesticides and “There are “critical periods” in human development when exposure to a toxin can permanently alter the way an individual’s biological system operates,” http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/factsheets/kidpesticide.htm

 

Ultimately, it’s important to examine your reasons for buying organic. Are you purchasing organic because it is higher in certain nutrients (but not all) or because you want to limit your or your children’s exposure to pesticides? Michael Pollan’s response to the recent headlines (http://blogs.kqed.org/newsfix/2012/09/04/michael-pollan-organic-study/) helps put the Stanford University findings into perspective when trying to make purchasing decisions.

 

Then there is the question of locally grown vs. organic, but we’ll save that for another day!

 

Peace & Raw!

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