Sept 5, 2012 | Marco Torres
If you've researched organic food to any depth, one thing becomes readily apparent--conventional foods can't compare to organic. Both in nutrient content and quality, organic foods exceed conventional sources in almost every area. But that's not the message the mainstream so persistently portrays when it comes to organics. According to the sloppy researchers at Stanford University, organic food will not make you healthier and there is no discernible difference. I'm here to tell you that's hogwash.
A sampling of the mainstream news shows an obvious reporting bias when it comes to showing both sides of the debate:
“Organic Food is Not Healthier than Conventional Produce” (Huffington Post);
“Organic, Conventional Foods Similar in Nutrition, Safety, Study Finds” (Washington Post).
“Stanford Scientists Cast Doubts on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce” (New York Times)
The Stanford University review was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and simply regurgitated the results of other studies with inconclusive results.
They looked at 17 studies comparing people who ate organic with those who did not and 223 studies that compared the levels of nutrients, bacteria, fungus or pesticides in various foods - including fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, milk and eggs.
None of the human studies ran for longer than two years, making conclusions about long-term outcomes impossible. And all of the available evidence was relatively weak and highly variable - which the authors say is unsurprising because of all the different variables, like weather and soil type, involved.
They claimed that fruit and vegetables contained similar amounts of vitamins, and milk the same amount of protein and fat. This is of course has been contradicted in other studies.
Tomatoes grown by organic methods contain more phenolic compounds than those grown using commercial standards. That study -- published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry -- analysed the phenolic profiles of Daniela tomatoes grown either using 'conventional' or organic methods, finding that those grown under organic conditions contained significantly higher levels of phenolic compounds than those grown conventionally.
Other findings published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that organically produced apples have a 15 percent higher antioxidant capacity than conventionally produced apples.
Prof Alan Dangour, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who carried out that work, said: "Consumers select organic foods for a variety of reasons, however this latest review identifies that at present there are no convincing differences between organic and conventional foods in nutrient content or health benefits.
I would emphatically disagree and emphasize that higher antioxidant levels, lower pesticide loads (which the study admits to), lack of genetically modified seeds, and overall better farming practices are indeed a convincing difference between organic and conventional foods in both nutrient content and health benefits.
Dr Crystal Smith-Spangler, the lead author of the latest review, said there were many reasons why people chose to eat organic, including animal welfare or environmental concerns.
"Some believe that organic food is always healthier and more nutritious. We were a little surprised that we didn't find that.
One of the possible reasons they didn't find that is that they were exposed to a group of studies that were hand picked to provide erroneous results on which they based their fabricated conclusions.
The Soil Association said the study was flawed.
Studies that treat crop trials as if they were clinical trials of medicines, like this one, exaggerate the variation between studies, and drown out the real differences.
"A UK review paper, using the correct statistical analysis, has found that most of the differences in nutrient levels between organic and non-organic fruit and vegetables seen in this US study are actually highly significant."
There is an abundance of evidence that suggests that the nutritional benefits from eating organically produced foods are quite dramatic when comparing them conventionally produced foods. However, you have to look at all the evidence, not just the evidence that has been tailored for the conventional food industry.
The only two factual findings coming out of this review were the highlights on pesticide loads and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. They found that organic food had 30% less pesticide residue. The review also noted that the risk for ingesting antibiotic-resistant bacteria was 33% higher in conventional than in organic chicken and pork.
A very unfortunate and convenient omission from the review is that organic foods (by definition) do NOT contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) so they are far healthier in this respect alone over conventional produce.
Most nations in the world have no GMO-Free platform to protect their citizens and although this is slowly changing, most nations are far behind places like Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Egypt, Russia and others who have GMO-Free or national bans on GMOs. The Stanford review only endorses the positions of nations such as The United States, Canada, China, UK, Australia, Mexico, and most of South America, Asia and Africa who have no formal GMO-free platforms so that they may continue their unrestricted and widespread use in all foods.
This study and its promotion by the mainstream media only further reduce the credibility of conventional produce. It's actually having the reverse effect of what they were intending to accomplish by pouncing on this review as they did.
A simple review of the following headlines will prove my point very quickly. The media is lying to you and they don't want you knowing the truth about your health.
- Junk Science: Study Says Non-Organic Vegetables Grown With Pesticides Contain More Vitamins
- Junk Science Update: Hot Dogs and Deli Meats Are Free of Carcinogenic Compounds
- Junk Science Update: Antidepressants Make People Less Likely To Harm Others
- The Pill Improves Social Skills and Intelligence?
More Junk Science Directed Towards Women
- Cell Phone Radiation Is Actually Not Bad
For Us Now, It Prevents Brain Disorders
- Junk Science Update: Plutonium May
Enhance Human Health
- Reality Reversals Continue: Scientists Now Propose That Ritalin Boosts Learning
- Check out this Youtube Video - Mercury is good for you
I rest my case.
Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.