Eating organic foods is believed by many to be a healthier choice, but is it? A recent study put this question in doubt. A systematic review of 240 English language studies by researchers at the Stanford University was published September 4, 2012, in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The abstract concluded: “The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods. Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria”.
The Stanford University press release, titled “Little evidence of health benefits of organic foods, Stanford Study finds”, downplayed the positive findings. Mainstream news items with few exceptions repeated the negative tone. Two health writers that I follow - the Health Sciences Institute and Dr. Joseph Mercola - dug a little deeper into the study and discovered several benefits of organic foods that are not that insignificant:
• 30% less pesticide residue in organic produce
• 33% lower risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in organic meat
• higher levels of phenols and other antioxidants in organic chicken
• higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in organic milk
There are many other studies that weren’t included in the Stanford analysis that show greater benefits of organic farming. A University of Stuttgart study, for example, published in July 2012, found that organic fruits and vegetables averaged 180 times lower pesticide content than conventional produce. And a well controlled study at University of California-Davis found that kiwis grown organically had a higher mineral, vitamin C and antioxidant content.
I buy and eat organically grown food whenever possible, but realize that it is what foods we eat (and how much), rather than how they were grown, that has the biggest influence on our health.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.