Why Eating Organic Is Still Smart

Despite recently publicized headlines to the contrary, eating organic really is better for our health. Here's why.

| March/April 2013

  • The organic label ensures that food bearing the label has been grown without synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, drugs and hormones.
    Photo By iStock
  • Children's developing brains may be more susceptible to the potential health effects of pesticide exposure.
    Photo By Veer
  • If you read the stories about the recent Stanford study, you may be thinking twice about spending extra for organic. Despite headlines, however, eating organic is still better for your health. Here's why.
    Photo By Veer
  • What we might not want to pay for at the grocery store now—higher prices for higher-quality food—we will most surely pay for later.
    Photo By Shutterstock

If you were paying attention to the news last September, you probably heard about a report by a research team at Stanford University that went viral, proclaiming that there are no nutritional benefits to eating organic food. Various media outlets blasted headlines such as “Why Organic Food May Not Be Healthier for You” and “Organic Food Is No Healthier than Conventional Food.” The media blitz may have left you wondering whether it’s worth it to spend the extra money on organics. We’re here to tell you that it is, and to give you a bunch of good reasons why.

The Stanford Study’s Flaws

Consider that, despite its publicity, there are many reasons not to take the Stanford study as the final word on the nutrition of organics. Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the paper narrowly defined health as vitamin content. In fact, Stanford’s own research found that eating organic food reduces our exposure to both pesticides and antibiotic-resistant bacteria—obvious health benefits by almost any standard.

The paper didn’t break ground with new research, but rather analyzed a select group of studies comparing organic vs conventional industrial food. Numerous experts have noted that the study was too narrow in focus and have worked to expose the study’s questionable funding and ties to the large-scale agriculture and biotechnology industries. In addition, they question why the results of many important studies were omitted from the Stanford data.

One study excluded from the paper was a meta-analysis out of the Human Nutrition Research Center in the United Kingdom, which found that increased nitrogen in the soil (conventional farming relies on synthetic nitrogen fertilizer) reduces the number of defense-related compounds—such as vitamin C—in fruits and vegetables. Compared with conventional produce, organic produce contains, on average, about 12 percent more of these nutrients, which the researchers say would be equivalent to increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables by the same 12 percent. Another significant study whose results were excluded was one out of the University of Barcelona that found organic tomatoes contain more antioxidants than conventionally grown tomatoes.



Pesticides and Kids

Shortly after the Stanford study was published, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) undertook an extensive analysis of the existing scientific evidence about organic food. The AAP analysis confirmed that eating an organic diet could reduce children’s exposure to both pesticides and drug-resistant bacteria. However, they also emphasize that the most important thing is that children eat a wide range of produce regardless of whether it’s organic, noting that no large human studies have specifically addressed whether reduced exposure to pesticide residues on produce benefits health. 

But pesticide exposure has been linked to numerous cancers (brain, breast, colon, lung, ovarian, kidney, pancreatic, stomach and testicular), as well as to nervous system damage; reproductive and metabolic problems; diabetes; obesity; several of the neurological diseases of aging; and other chronic illnesses. Children, whose brains are still developing, are especially susceptible. A study funded by the EPA has shown that children who switch to eating organic food get “dramatic and immediate” reduced exposure to pesticides. The levels of two organophosphate pesticides in children’s urine decreased to nondetectable levels immediately after the introduction of organic diets. Today, approximately 1,400 pesticides are approved for use in the United States by the EPA.

dylanmiller
3/18/2014 5:22:31 AM

Now days many people know the benefits of eating organic food. We are taking food for a healthy health, free from hungry, get proper nutrition and physical and mental growth etc. We can say life without food has no existence. There are different food material available in market. Among them organic foods are more acceptable and better than other. It has no toxic substances. The composition of this always has a positive impact on our body. Beside it the above points describe on above are also vital reason. http://gsplantfoods7.blogspot.in/2013/05/organic-food-is-safest-option-in-this.html


Micheline Cloutier
3/6/2013 5:09:19 AM

This is the truth and even though I am finding it hard to buy this here does not mean that I do not want to go completely organic. I do




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