A heated debate on organic food was fuelled by Stanford University research about the difference between conventional, modern and organic grown foods. An analysis of 237 organic items of produce, dairy products and meats were reviewed. The findings have concluded that organic food cannot be considered more nutritious than their conventional grown counterparts.
Meanwhile, supporters of organic food argue that the study considers only a narrow selection of organic food and that people choose organic food because they want to steer clear of chemicals, hormones and pesticides, which may be found in conventional farming methodologies.
Q&A on organic food, coming from the above mentioned debate:
Q: Why Stanford focused on nutritional differences between conventional and organic food?
A: This was a study to investigate nutritional differences between a number of foods in terms pesticides and organic growing methods and nutrient delivery strategies in to the soil were investigated.
A study in 2010 by Washington State University and University of Barcelona, were researchers concluded that strawberries grown organically have more antioxidants and vitamins C than conventionally grown strawberries. Tomatoes develop more antioxidant polyphenols when compared to conventionally grown tomatoes.
One experimental observation made was ripeness. Ripeness influences nutritional element to a greater extent. For instance, an organic berry in its peak ripeness can produce more vitamins with pesticides than a less-ripe version.
Q: Is it true that commercial milk products are inferior to organic milk?
A: Concerns about bovine hormone has let to high popularity of organic milk, as the contested hormone naturally already present in cows it has been argued that it does not change the milk characteristic as investigated by the Food and Drug Administration.
However, organic milk producers need to allow their cows to spend a certain amount of time grazing, as this brings a considerable difference in the milk’s fatty acids.
Organic milk has low omega-6 fatty acids and higher levels of omega-3 when compared to conventional milk, which is believed to be less beneficial for preventing heart disease.
Q: Are there any health benefits from consuming pesticide free food?
A: It is true that conventional fruit and vegetables have higher pesticide levels than organic produce, but all produce now on the market, irrespective of it being labelled organic or not have lower pesticide residue levels than the highest permissible by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Dr Charles Benbrook, chief scientist for the Organic Centre, advises that pesticide-free foods even at minute levels would benefit pregnant women, young children and elderly people with chronic diseases.
Q: Does organic food bring additional benefits apart from above claimed health gains? For instance, to farm workers or to the environment?
A: The answer to this question has not been proved to a satisfied level, due to the breadth of the scope of this statement. But it is fair to say that some pesticides have been shown to elevate a chance of cancer occurrence in farm workers, and EPA has put a ban on most dangerous pesticides, thus the threat today is comparatively low.
Since organic farming does not involve any pesticides, the yields are also significantly lower also reducing financial incentive to follow this form of farming methodology. This in turn needs to be offset by significantly increased price of goods sold.