Study Says Organic Food Not More Nutritious Than Regular Food -- UDPATE --

People buy organic for a lot of reasons. No pesticides or no chemicals—that’s a biggie—and some say it tastes better, especially organic fruits and vegetables.

Other people insist it’s more nutritious than traditional produce. Is it really? I’d like to think so, but a new study says it isn’t.

The research, appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and based on a review of data from the last 50 years, only found a very small number of nutritional differences between organic food and non-organics. Key highlights:

  • From a total of over 52,000 articles, there were 162 (137 on crops and 25 on livestock products) that met the researchers' first level of inclusion criteria but only 55 of these were of satisfactory quality and went into the analysis.
  • Conventionally produced crops had a significantly higher content of nitrogen.
  • Organically produced crops had a significantly higher content of phosphorus and higher titratable acidity.
  • There was no evidence of a difference among the remaining 8 crop nutrient categories.
  • Analysis of the few quality studies on livestock products showed no evidence of differences in nutrient content between those that were organically and those that were conventionally produced.

However, researchers say it’s difficult to provide a definite answer until longer studies have been completed. In the meantime, stick with organic food, at the very least it’s safer. Pesticides and chemicals certainly don’t help. Eek! 

UPDATE: Dr. Fuhrman had some thoughts on this:

Lower nitrogen residue in the organic food is another important reason to eat organic that this study documented. The over-use of nitrogen fertilizers is polluting our oceans, removing ozone and damaging the ecosystem, plus excessive nitrogen compounds in the non-organic food is also not healthy.

Via Medical News Today.

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Comments (9) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Lifer - August 4, 2009 9:20 AM

Pretty sure I remember Joel saying in a teleconference that organics have a higher concentration of phytonutrients? Am I remembering incorrectly?

We must never forget the effect that pesticides and the like have on the environment as well when deciding what to eat. You aren't just making a choice for yourself.

abb - August 4, 2009 9:33 AM

A huge reason to go organic whenever possible, even aside from the nutritional aspects of the food itself, is the difference it makes to the SOIL we need to grow food. Topsoil is being lost at alarming rates in this country due to chemicalized, industrialized agriculture. Organic farming *builds* topsoil. Increased concern with the health of our bodies has a natural extension to concern with the health of the planet, and supporting healthy soil via organic farming practices is one of the best and most direct ways we can address that concern.

LS Revesz - August 4, 2009 11:22 AM

So, rich, arable, complex soils don't grow food that's better than chemically-fertilized dirt? Sure! And we're all following Eat to Live why? Because our health was being served equally well with processed foods that aren't packed with phytonutrients?

I'm guessing studies like this one are of the ilk that declares there's no link between cancer and smoking. Call me cynical, but I'm also guessing that if we were to follow the money, we'd find a connection between the research and funding from chemical fertilizer and pesticide companies.

sharon shaw - August 4, 2009 12:10 PM

My first question would be: Who paid for this study? Monsanto?? I have a hard time believing that the nutrient profile is no better with organics....The pesticide issue alone makes all other debates mute!!

Elijah Lynn - August 4, 2009 2:15 PM

I cannot wait for every food we purchase to have a nutritional profile associated with it. For instance one crop of spinach is most likely different than last years. We should have easy access to this information. We have the technology. It should list all chemical residue on any given sample.

I think the best way to achieve this is for there to be a machine in every store that the customers can use, the machine would take a food sample and give you a print out or email of the nutritional profile and all chemical levels associated with that sample.

A grocery store could afford this if it were big enough and use it as a selling feature.

Monty - August 5, 2009 1:05 PM

What this means is that organic food is not what the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and its financial backers are selling. Actually it may have the opposite effect. And there is also the possibility of fake organic getting into the test results, or into the selection process for the meta-analysis.

Elijah Lynn - August 5, 2009 2:46 PM

@Monty - That is a pretty interesting theory!!! We really don't know if our food is really organic other than that they tell us it is.

abb - August 5, 2009 6:49 PM

Check out this article on "Non-Organic Organic Food" by Jim Hightower:

Elijah Lynn - August 6, 2009 12:41 PM

Great link Abb! That was very informative.

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