September 7, 2012
Earlier this week, scientists from Stanford University weighed in on the debate over the benefits of eating organic. After an exhaustive look at over two hundred studies conducted over four decades they concluded that organic produce is no more nutritious than conventional. The study also found that conventional produce had more pesticide residue, but that the higher levels were nearly always below the safety limits. (You know, like the ones that said that it was totally safe to use BPA to make baby bottles.)
Allow me to digress for a moment.
Nutritious is defined as “providing nutrients.” So does an organic peach have more nutrients, vitamin C for example, than a conventional one? No, seems not. And I’m curious: Did you ever think otherwise?
I’ve never assumed that organic produce provided more vitamins and minerals than conventional produce, but I’ve also had the experience of developing an organic food brand. I’m deeply familiar with the rules, labels and definitions associated with natural and organic food production and marketing. But perhaps you feel you’ve been led to believe that organic is more nutritious.
Here’s another question: Do you think that there is a difference between nutritious and healthy?
Bear with me as I refer back to the dictionary. Healthy is defined as “being in good health,” with health defined as “the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; especially freedom from disease.” While health and nutrition are related, they are also different. And, if you ask me, though reduced pesticide levels may not qualify as more nutritious, it certainly qualifies as healthier. And that’s what I want: healthier fruits and vegetables for my family, especially when my children are very young and taking in a higher volume of produce relative to their body weight than older folks.
I appreciate the Stanford study. I don’t appreciate a lot of the headlines and careless wording I’m reading in reports of the study.
It’s important for consumers to very clearly understand food labels, especially in a advertising driven market. Organic produce is often more expensive and you should know exactly what you’re investing so that you can make the smartest spending decision for your family. The extra dollars happen to be worth it to me, even given the results of the Stanford study. Because as long as organic means reducing chemicals that have no place on our dinner plates (not to mention farming practices that are better for the planet), it’s living up to its promise of being a healthier option.