Tuesday, September 4, 2012

organic or conventional?

The news headlines are once again blaring headlines about no significant nutritional difference between conventional and organic produce.  At a base level that appears to be true.  Foods grown in similar soil will have similar nutritional benefits.  The plants are only able to get so much out of the soil.

However, and this is not disputed in the new but certainly seems to be minimized, the chemical residues are higher for conventionally grown produce.  This is because in order for food to be considered organic there is a standard which prohibits the use of a vast array of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.  That chemical burden on your body can be considerable.  This alone makes it worth purchasing organic, especially for the "dirty dozen," those fruits and vegetables most likely to be highly contaminated by pesticide residue.

There was a modest mention made of the fact that organic produce appears to be higher in antioxidants.  Since antioxidant value was not considered as part of the overall nutritional value of the food this appears to have been discarded as a strong reason to purchase organic.  There are, however, a growing number of studies which show that antioxidant value is highly beneficial for the body, especially when it comes to a wide number of diseases and health conditions.

Another important fact to consider, which the articles don't discuss, is that organic produce is not allowed to be genetically modified.  Given the number of genetically modified crops (and the growing number under application for approval) it makes sense to purchase organic in order to avoid that in your food.

And a final thought on this issue, which the articles tend to gloss over, is that meat and dairy products from organically fed animals (meaning the animals are not allowed to be given added hormones, antibiotics, and are not allowed to be fed genetically modified or pesticide laden foods) do have significant differences.  Organic animal production means the animals are not allowed to be given added hormones, antibiotics, and are not fed genetically modified or pesticide laden foods.  The antibiotic issue is an important one for animal products.  When we eat continual low level antibiotics it is bad for our overall health and can encourage bacteria to become anti-biotic resistant.

Organic dairy products are measurably higher in protein and beneficial fatty acids.  Eggs also have a better fatty acid profile.  Studies show that organic meat is lower in fat and has a better overall fatty acid profile making it a healthier choice for consumption than conventionally raised animals and animal products.

Ultimately the choice of what to eat and how to spend your grocery dollars is up to you.  But before you make those choices make sure you have all the facts, not just a scaled down "no nutritional difference" newsbyte.

1 comment:

Sam said...

I was appalled at this report. Really??? NO difference??? Who paid for the report? I believe organic, when I can afford it, is better. I do not want GMO food or food laden with drugs not of my chosing to ingest.