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Defending Organic…Yet Again

British Study Tries to Debunk Nutrition Benefits of Organic

Organic farming relies on natural ways to maintain soil productivity.

Organic farming relies on natural ways to maintain soil productivity.

On the heels of my writing about the Environmental Working Group’s analysis of the most pesticide-riddled foods, this little news bulletin crossed my computer monitor:  “Organics no healthier than other foods.”

Talk about timing, huh?

Of course, many of us are used to this dog and pony show by now, but it’s really unfortunate that the organic deniers are still out there, doing all they can to deride the sustainability of our soil and our long term health.

Before I start defending, yet again, the organic industry, here’s the latest “study” to debunk the health benefits of organic vegetables.

It comes out of Britain, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to be specific.  In their analysis of over 150 different studies, they claim to have found no statistically significant differences in the nutrient levels of organic foods and conventionally produced foods.  Whether they were vegetables, fruits, dairy or meat products, nutrients like vitamin C, iron and calcium were all the same.

Most people who buy organic produce know that it’s better for them both nutritionally and taste-wise. They’re not going to dignify some study’s findings by not buying organic produce.

However, there are a number of people out there who are right on the edge, unsure of whether it’s worth the extra money to buy organic.  It’s these people I wish to speak to.

So is it worth it?  Three words:  Yes, yes and yes.

One of the main reasons why it’s worth it is the sustainability factor of our soils.  Pesticide is poison; no study will say otherwise.

Farmers find pesticide useful because it kills stubborn insects and garden pests, while at the same time helping their fruits and vegetables to grow quicker and larger.

Sounds great, right?

Well, no, actually.  Because there’s a trade off.

While garden pests will stay away, the toxic concoction has to go somewhere.  And the stuff that isn’t consumed by us when we bite into an apple (one of the more pesticide-laden fruits) poisoning soils, (making it less fertile), flows into river waters (harming wildlife), and reduces the number of species that help plants germinate and produce fruits and vegetables.

Speaking of species, bees are crucial to crops’ survival and rate of production.  Yet bees are in short supply on conventionally grown farm lands.  In fact, according to Molly Conisbee of the Soil Association, organic farmlands have 50 percent more species, like bees, than conventional farmlands that use pesticides.

So by buying organic, you’re guaranteeing a better environment and greater crop yield for the future.

As far as nutrition goes, there’s no question organic is better than conventional – I don’t care what the British study says.  And the reason I don’t care is because the study was extremely subjective in its analysis.

For example, the researchers said there wasn’t any real difference in vitamin C, iron and calcium.  OK.  But what about other nutrients, like beta-carotene and the number of flavonoids?

Surprise!  There was a difference – and the organic produce had higher levels!

Further, as noted by Paula Crossfield at The Huffington Post, there is a difference in vitamin C content among organically grown and conventionally grown produce.  And according to the 2008 study commissioned by The Organic Center, organic produce had 25 percent more vitamin C than the conventionally grown produce in the Organic Center’s analysis.

If all that weren’t enough, going back to the Soil Association’s analysis, not only does organic produce have more of what you want, it has less of what you don’t want, like cadmium and nickel.  These two chemical compounds are typically found on industrial sites, cadmium being a carcinogen.

Studies abound, and virtually anybody can find a study that either supports or negates an issue.  But in the argument over organic versus conventional produce, it boils down to common sense:  Is something produced naturally more likely to be healthier, or is something that’s loaded with pesticides and artificial growth hormones more likely to be healthier?

I know which one I’m choosing for my health.  How about you?

Sources:
blogs.usatoday.com
huffingtonpost.com
telegraph.co.uk

Related Posts

  1. The Nutrition Decision: Organic or Conventional?
  2. UK Government’s New Labeling Law Would Allow Food Companies To “Cash In” on The Organic Label
  3. Retail Giant Under Investigation Over Allegedly Deceiving Organic Claims…
  4. Exposure to Pesticides & Men’s Cancer Risks
  5. Flavonoids Protect Smokers from Lung Cancer
  


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