Is Organic Food More Nutritious?

Organic foods are grown without artificial chemicals. They are not treated with synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Since organic farmers do not use chemicals on their crops, the water that runs off their fields is also free of artificial pollutants. This is all good! But are organic foods necessarily better for you than foods grown with synthetic chemicals? Possibly not, it turns out.

A recent study by scientists at Stanford University looked at fruits and vegetables, comparing organic and conventional alternatives. Lead researchers Dr. Bravata said that they expected to find that organic food would be more nutritious and contain less contamination than food raised in conventional (not organic) ways.

To their surprise, the two types of food had equivalent nutritive value. Further, both types of food were equally likely to have harmful bacteria. These results were drawn from more than 200 studies on various fruits, vegetables and meat. This was not a happy result for organic food advocates.

The conventional food did contain more pesticides than organic food. However, when the contamination levels for each type of food were compared to the “safe” levels established by the EPA, the tables were turned. Certainly, any chemical can be harmful in extreme doses. Water can kill. Oxygen can kill. Very low levels of cyanide are totally safe. It is all a matter of dosage.

When organic pesticides were compared to synthetic pesticides, it was observed that the organic pesticides are lethal at far lower doses. For example, copper sulfate is used as an organic pesticide. It is 100 times more lethal than a comparable synthetic pesticide, gram for gram.

So what does this mean? Organic food is safe, just as conventionally produced food. Both can contain chemicals that are dangerous. Both can contain bacteria that are dangerous. The true moral? Wash your produce rigorously before serving. This simple step can remove many contaminants. Be safe about food preparation techniques. Assume that your meat has E. coli. contamination. Handle and cook the meat thoroughly to render it safe. Organic or not, well prepared food is a wonderful experience!

Did the Stanford study get it right? Click on that comment button and share your views.

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