Oh boy. Aren't the cynics laughing now? This week, USA Today reported on a new study, noting that organic produce may not be more nutritious than conventionally grown vegetables. As I've often mentioned on Foodlets, my blog about cooking for kids (including the recipes, the strategies, the food on the floor...), I do believe in buying organic. But this four year study led by a primary care doctor at Stanford University revealed two serious findings:
There were no significant differences in the vitamin content of organic and conventional fruits and vegetables. The studies looked specifically at vitamins A, C and E.
Detectable pesticide residue was found in 7% of organic produce and 38% of conventional produce. However, only three studies found pesticide residue that exceeded maximum allowed limits in the European Union on organic or conventional produce. That means organic produce is more expensive, often harder to find, yet not notably better for you. So, what's the point?
As mentioned by the study's own author, who says she'll keep supporting organic produce, there are big differences between organically raised crops and their conventionally commercial counterparts.
The benefits of organic farming still include:
- Fewer pesticides and in some cases none, which is better for the environment
- The benefits of buying locally: not only a boon for every local economy but another eco-boost because food doesn't have to be shipped
- Typically speaking, better animal treatment on organic farms which tend to be smaller with open air in a more natural setting
- And there's a bonus reason that hasn't been mentioned so far: taste. Fresh vegetables, picked straight from the earth -- and eaten soon -- cannot be topped. If a green tomato from California ripens in the truck on its way to a dinner table in Wisconsin, the cardboard-like result isn't so surprising. (No wonder some kids are reluctant to try new things, if this is the only option.)
However, for my money there's a much, much bigger question looming over the entire food supply. What about genetically modified foods? Now that's one study I'd like to see...
Cynics, you're on.