You may have seen the results of a Stanford University study in the news recently, which fuels the debate of organic vs. more conventionally grown foods. The researchers concluded that fruits and vegetables labeled organic were not nutritionally superior to non-organic produce and weren’t any less likely to be contaminated with E. coli bacteria. The study also found no obvious health benefits of organic meats.
In my opinion, it’s important to read between the lines of the findings of this study so that you can make the most informed decision for you and your family on whether or not to buy organic. What the researchers also found was that 38 percent of the non-organic produce contained detectable pesticide residues vs. only 7 percent of the organic produce tested (from neighboring fields or tainted during transport). The organic meat tested contained considerably lower levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria as well and the organic produce had higher amounts of phenols, compounds believed to prevent cancer. The researchers also failed to mention the results of a 2010 study byWashingtonStateUniversitywhich found that organic strawberries contained more Vitamin C than non-organic.
A few of the advantages of choosing organic are ingesting less pesticide residues and antibiotics and supporting environmentally-friendly practices, while one downside is that organic produce and meats tend to be more expensive. The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce (pictured) can help you focus on which produce to purchase organic based on those that are highest/lowest in pesticide residues. More studies will undoubtedly continue to look at the advantages and disadvantages of organic vs. conventionally grown foods. Whether you decide to choose organic or not for yourself and your family, it’s important to get in more fruit and veggie servings every day!
Carey Emmons, RD, LDN