Last month there was a great deal of media attention paid to a study about organic food (Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?: A Systematic Review), which was widely cited for concluding that "[there is no] evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods." But the study is more spin than significant science.
A critique of the study in the New York Times by columnist and food writer Mark Bittman points out the weaknesses and oversimplifications in the study that have been used to "debunk" organic food based on criteria that are significantly immaterial to the organic label.
Bittman says of the study, "[it] was like declaring guns no more dangerous than baseball bats when it comes to blunt-object head injuries. It was the equivalent of comparing milk and Elmer’s glue on the basis of whiteness. It did, in short, miss the point." The other half of the conclusion of the study, "Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria," was much more overlooked.
Organic food has never been about some perception of super-food with extra nutritional value, except perhaps to those who don't understand organic in the first place. But this study was so narrow in its definitiion of "nutritious" (which was taken to mean "containing more vitamins") that, as Bittman points out, "you can claim that, based on nutrients, Frosted Flakes are a better choice than an apple."
The benefits of organic farming are numerous, and are far beyond relative comparison of the amount of some vitamin content. Not only are there potential individual benefits (the aforementioned reduced exposure to pesticide residue and so forth), but contributing to such broader environmental benefits as reduced pesticide use and more sustainable farming practices are also worthwhile goals.
via: NY Times (apologies; this may be behind their paywall)
written by Elizabeth Miller, November 24, 2012
written by Stay Healthy with Organic Products, March 01, 2013