Many people assume that organics are more nutritious, but that debate is far from settled. In fact, the best recent evidence shows that most organic food has the same nutrition as non-organic. The most recent evidence is from the most comprehensive review so far on this subject, run by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, called Nutritional quality of organic foods: a systematic review — American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and published in August. They reviewed every major published article over the last 50 years, and their findings may surprise you:
Results: From a total of 52,471 articles, we identified 162 studies (137 crops and 25 livestock products); 55 were of satisfactory quality. In an analysis that included only satisfactory-quality studies, conventionally produced crops had a significantly higher content of nitrogen, and organically produced crops had a significantly higher content of phosphorus and higher titratable acidity. No evidence of a difference was detected for the remaining 8 of 11 crop nutrient categories analyzed. Analysis of the more limited database on livestock products found no evidence of a difference in nutrient content between organically and conventionally produced livestock products.
Conclusions: On the basis of a systematic review of studies of satisfactory quality, there is no evidence of a difference in nutrient quality between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs. The small differences in nutrient content detected are biologically plausible and mostly relate to differences in production methods.
There are more links from the UK Food Standards Agency here, as well as PDFs of the above literature. There is also an excellent review of organics and food safety from one of my favorite sites, the Hong Kong Center for Food Safety. They also state evidence that doesn’t show much nutritional difference between organics and non-organics.
This article is the most comprehensive look so far at this issue, and the results are strong. However, there are many other reasons why people may choose organic, including environmental protection as well as better handling of bred animals. I choose organics mostly for food safety concerns. There are many concerns regarding not just proper chemical/pesticide use, but also improper wastewater irrigation, and food storage and handling. So I feel more comfortable buying organic or GreenFood from larger supermarkets as I assume there is much more government/private oversight of these products.
Read more previous posts on organics.
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