Organic vs. Conventional: No difference?
So after paying double for apples for the past few years, was it really worth it? A new study just released in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals no difference in nutritional quality between organically-produced and conventionally-produced foods. The researchers studied 50 years worth of published food science articles and determined that the nutrient content of organic foods and conventional foods (including crops and livestock) is basically the same.
The study has received lots of attention since it was published yesterday and has been picked up by many major news outlets including the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. And maybe opponents of organic foods are happy. But I’m wondering if it’s really that revelatory.
If you buy organic foods because you think they contain more nutrients than the alternative, then yes, this study proves you wrong. But is that really why anyone buys organic? Not me. I don’t buy everything organic, but when I do buy organic, it’s not because of the extra nutrients I think I’m getting; it’s because of what I know I’m not getting: no chemicals, no additives, no weird contaminating substances. Just like when we grow our own at home.
On the other hand, another study published earlier this year in HortScience (analyzed here by Time Magazine) showed that the nutritional content of today’s conventionally-produced vegetables is 5 percent to 40 percent less than that of the vegetables produced in the United States 50 years ago. So maybe organic produce isn’t more nutritious than conventional produce, but the mainstream tomatoes you buy at the store today don’t pack nearly the same punch as the ones your grandmother bought 50 years ago. Just one more reason to grow your own.
What do you think about this study? If you buy organic, do you do so for nutritional content or to avoid the bad stuff?