Organic vs. Conventional? A healthy lifestyle includes eating right and making healthy choices. An extensive debate that has long been brewing includes the idea of eating foods that are conventionally grown or organically grown. Recently, a team at Stanford University published a study that indicated organic foods do not have more nutritional value than conventionally grown foods. Since the release of this study, there has been an uproar based on the misleading information that the team portrayed. What Was Researched: The Stanford University Medical School team conducted a type of study called meta-analysis. They identified different studies that compare organic food and conventional food and used these statistics to compare the research. A major conclusion that the team agreed upon was that “the published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods.” One question that arises from this statement is what is considered “significant.” Among scientists, nutritionists, the food industry, and the government there is not an agreed upon measure that indicates a “significant” benefit from any health-promoting life style intervention. As a result, the Stanford team used misleading calculations to report findings on the risk difference of one or more pesticide residues in organic and conventional food samples. This percentage of lower risk that was reported is an unusual and unfamiliar metric that most readers will misunderstand.
Benefits of Buying Organic:
- Dramatically reduces exposure to pesticides: Foods that are grown organically or grown in the wild are not exposed to harsh pesticides and insecticides. There is now strong evidence that organophosphate (OP) insecticides increase the risk of neuro-developmental deficits. Studies that have been conducted show that it only takes a couple of days on an organic diet for OP insecticides to virtually disappear from a person’s urine. By choosing organically grown or wild fruits a person can decrease their exposure to pesticides just by choosing wisely about what they are putting into their bodies.
- Antibiotics are not used to treat animals: Organic meat farmers are not allowed to use antibiotics to treat animals that are producing organic foods as set by the U.S. National Organic Program and European rules. This indicates that organic farmers are not responsible for problems that arise when doctors are unable to treat an infection caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria.
- Increased vitamins and minerals: When comparing organic and conventional apples, strawberries, grapes, tomatoes, milk, carrots, and grains vitamin C, antioxidants, and phenolic acids tend to be higher in organic foods.
- Health impacts: Studies have shown that eating organic food can reduce the odds of some health impacts. Particularly at certain stages of life there are benefits for eating organically grown food. For example, before and during pregnancy avoiding pesticides and animal drugs can reduce a child’s risk of autism, ADHD, asthma, learning problems, and eczema. Also eating organically has favorable impacts when fighting a degenerative disease and after the age of 60.