Is organic food better for you than conventional food? It's the second most asked question we get here about food, the first being 'What is the difference between organic and inorganic food? (Also Lee Silver's What is the meaning of "organic" (and inorganic) food?)
If you like paying $15 a dozen for eggs you aren't going to like the answer to the first one. Even if you like paying $15 a dozen for eggs, you won't like the answer to the second one, since the list of inorganic ingredients allowed in organic food is as long as your arm.
Systematic review of the literature over 50 years finds no evidence for superior nutritional content of organic produce. Yes, yes, supposedly organic food has some superior process but that's all it is, a process. Like GMO hysteria, there is no difference in the actual food.
Hey, we're all about commerce. Yayyyyyy, capitalism. And if you want to pay higher prices for organic foods based on their perceived health and nutrition benefits, you're welcome to it. They certainly know their framing, since the global organic food market was estimated in 2007 to be worth nearly $40 billion.
Researchers from the London School of Hygiene&Tropical Medicine have now completed the most extensive systematic review, published today in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, of the available published literature on nutrient content of organic food ever conducted. The review focussed on nutritional content and did not include a review of the content of contaminants or chemical residues in foods from different agricultural production regimens.
Over 50,000 papers were searched, and a total of 162 relevant articles were identified that were published over a fifty-year period up to 29 February 2008 and compared the nutrient content of organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs. To ensure methodological rigour the quality of each article was assessed.
To be graded as satisfactory quality, the studies had to provide information on the organic certification scheme from which the foodstuffs were derived, the cultivar of crop or breed of livestock analysed, the nutrient or other nutritionally relevant substance assessed, the laboratory analytical methods used, and the methods used for statistical analysis. 55 of the identified papers were of satisfactory quality, and analysis was conducted comparing the content in organically and conventionally produced foods of the 13 most commonly reported nutrient categories.
The researchers found organically and conventionally produced foods to be comparable in their nutrient content. For 10 out of the 13 nutrient categories analysed, there were no significant differences between production methods in nutrient content. Differences that were detected were most likely to be due to differences in fertilizer use (nitrogen, phosphorus), and ripeness at harvest (acidity), and it is unlikely that consuming these nutrients at the levels reported in organic foods would provide any health benefit.
Alan Dangour, of the London School of Hygiene&Tropical Medicine’s Nutrition and Public Health Intervention Research Unit, and one of the report’s authors, comments, said "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. 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. Research in this area would benefit from greater scientific rigour and a better understanding of the various factors that determine the nutrient content of foodstuffs."
This does not mean you want to eat food dipped in pesticides and it's certainly true that the pesticides in use today are much worse for the environment than the DDT they replaced, but food preparation was important 60 years ago too.
Citation: Am J Clin Nutr (July 29, 2009). doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.28041
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Nibiru Internet Hoax "Blood Moon" Video - Kudos To Independent For Straight Debunking Article :).
- Anomaly!: Book News And A Clip
- On Sexuality, You Weren't Born That Way, Says Paper
- Your Microbiome Did Not Cause Your Weight Problem
- Beekeeping Fad And The Stress Of Traveling Is Harmful To Bees
- Petition: Let's End Dramatized Reporting Of "Doomsday" Stories - The Vulnerable Get Suicidal
- Gödel,Frenkel, Kurzweil, and Hawkins on AI
- "Haha: jeans one size too large! I remember another description: cavallo basso ;) What a mythical..."
- "They can't control what media do with results. They argue against interventions and the desire..."
- "Mr walker I would like to thank you for your articles, relating to this matter. It did bother me..."
- "Hi mr walker just a question how do we actually no that this nibiru whatever it is supposed to..."
- "so now, all the religious media are running wild with this story as if they science at all... won't..."
- UBC researchers plumb the secrets of tissue paper
- Ocean acidification threatens cod recruitment in the Atlantic
- Study takes a step back to look at use of restraints in hospitals
- Scientists uncover the way a common cell enzyme alerts the body to invading bacteria
- 50 years after the release of the film 'Fantastic Voyage,' science upstages fiction