We all know how expensive it is to “eat right.” A simple trip to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s will eat up an entire paycheck. But we want to be healthy, and eating organic, so we are told, is the way to do it. Or is it?
Well, it seems consumers in London have been complaining about the huge financial disparity between ordinary food and organic food. They clamored and wanted to know if there were true health advantages for their financial investment in the organic stuff.
Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine conducted a systematic review of more than 160 scientific papers and studies published in the leading journals over the past half-century. Their study, “Nutrition-related health effects of organic foods: a systematic review,” was published in the July 2010 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Here’s the abstract:
BACKGROUND: There is uncertainty over the nutrition-related benefits to health of consuming organic foods.
OBJECTIVE: We sought to assess the strength of evidence that nutrition-related health benefits could be attributed to the consumption of foods produced under organic farming methods.
DESIGN: We systematically searched PubMed, ISI Web of Science, CAB Abstracts, and Embase between 1 January 1958 and 15 September 2008 (and updated until 10 March 2010); contacted subject experts; and hand-searched bibliographies. We included peer-reviewed articles with English abstracts if they reported a comparison of health outcomes that resulted from consumption of or exposure to organic compared with conventionally produced foodstuffs.
RESULTS: From a total of 98,727 articles, we identified 12 relevant studies. A variety of different study designs were used; there were 8 reports (67%) of human studies, including 6 clinical trials, 1 cohort study, and 1 cross-sectional study, and 4 reports (33%) of studies in animals or human cell lines or serum. The results of the largest study suggested an association of reported consumption of strictly organic dairy products with a reduced risk of eczema in infants, but the majority of the remaining studies showed no evidence of differences in nutrition-related health outcomes that result from exposure to organic or conventionally produced foodstuffs. Given the paucity of available data, the heterogeneity of study designs used, exposures tested, and health outcomes investigated, no quantitative meta-analysis was justified.
CONCLUSION: From a systematic review of the currently available published literature, evidence is lacking for nutrition-related health effects that result from the consumption of organically produced foodstuffs.
Hard to believe, isn’t it? I mean… wow! Not what we have been led to believe in all cases. Yet, the studies indicate there is no difference. Disturbing, really. Let’s consider some of the information for a moment.
In the article, their findings showed that "a small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs, but these are unlikely to be of any public health relevance," said Alan Dangour, one of the report’s authors.
Dangour went on to say: "Our review indicates that there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organically over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority."
Sure, research shows that the nutritional content of chemically-treated food is almost the same as organic food… But who cares?
The reason people turn to organic food is to avoid the herbicides and pesticides that commercial farmers use to improve crop output and kill crop-eating insects.
We choose organic so that we won’t get cancer from eating an apple or salad that was grown in chemically-heavy soil or sprayed with toxic chemicals that will then enter our blood stream.
Recent reports showed that children who ate fruit grown with everyday commercial chemicals presented with traces of pesticides in their urine! And after a mere five days of switching to organic fruit, the toxic levels dropped drastically from their blood.
So you can save a few bucks by consuming commercially grown foodstuffs, and you may actually receive the actual nutrients found in their organic counterparts.
But beware, having money in your pocket and nutrients in your system in no way reflects the toxic chemical levels you are also living with. Life is too short and too valuable to play games with. Buy organic and live healthier.
— Dr. Mark Wiley