Dr. Mercola: Organic Foods are Safer and Healthier than Conventional… True or False?_Featured_, Food Monday, September 17th, 2012
In the UK, organic food sales have been falling since 2008. The featured commentary1 discusses whether organic is going “out of style,” or if people’s tastes and reasoning for going organic are simply changing.
“Sales of organic products have been falling since the credit crunch first bit in late 2008. But thrift alone does not seem to be enough to explain what is now a medium-term trend, since Fairtrade, another ethical certification with a price premium, has not suffered the same reverse, with sales rising by an estimated 12 percent last year.
What seems to be the case is that customers who used to use the organic label as a kind of proxy for good, sustainable produce now look to the specific virtues that most concern them: seasonality, locality, fair trade or animal welfare. Indeed, sometimes their other ethical concerns trump the desire for organics, such as when they choose home-grown peas over air-freighted organic alternatives…” The Guardian states.2
There are probably a number of reasons for this change, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. For the past few years now, I’ve argued that buying locally grown foods may actually be an overall better choice than the strict focus on organic.
In part because organic produce from overseas may or may not have been grown according to strict organic standards, so you could potentially be overpaying for something that isn’t really organic (not to mention the environmental damage caused by shipping food across the globe), and in part because many small farmers actually grow their food according to sustainable, organic principles even though they may not have received organic certification, which is a very costly process.
Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?
Confounding the conversation are recent reports that organic foods are not nutritionally different from non-organic. A recent meta-analysis by Stanford University3 has received widespread media coverage, and with few exceptions, conventional media outlets have used it to cast doubt on the value of an organic diet. The New York Times4, for example, declared “Stanford Scientists Cast Doubt on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce,” and Fox News’ headline claimed “organic food may not be worth the money.”5
An editorial in The Los Angeles Times6 bravely bucked the trend, stating “Stanford’s research showing that organic produce probably isn’t any more nutritious than the conventional variety is mostly remarkable for what it omitted.” Still, you’ve had to be a reader of alternative media to get the real scoop on this study…
In a nutshell, the meta-analysis, which looked at 240 reports comparing organically and conventionally grown food (including 17 human studies), DID find that organic foods ARE safer, and probably healthier than conventional foods—if you are of the conviction that ingesting fewer toxins is healthier and safer for you. While I believe organic foods grown in healthy soils can be more nutritious than their conventional counterparts grown in depleted soils with synthetic chemicals, a major benefit of organically grown foods really is the reduction in your toxic load.