Nutrition Myth Busting: Are Organic Foods Better than Regular Groceries?
Dieting trends have existed probably since the beginning of time. Some of them have sounded more absurd and others actually sound quite convincing. But what are the facts when it comes the statement that “Organic food is better for you”? There are nutritionists, people in the fitness game, doctors and word of mouth that feeds into the contradictory information about organic food, some saying that it is the absolute best for you and others that say its exactly the same. So, let’s jump past all the speculation and look into how good for you organic food really is.
A Call for Homegrown Fruits and Veggies
Believe it or not, the organic food movement is a lot older than you think it is. The term organic means “food that is grown without the assistance of man-made chemicals.” The term “organic farming” was coined by Walter James aka Lord Northbourne in his manifesto Look to Land. His book was basically a statement on how much better organic farming was compared to pesticide farming. It was popular enough to start a movement as he continued his research in biodynamic farming. He eventually grew interested in the metaphysical side of things in his writing as he got older.
Organic farming as a whole gained popularity from there since sustainability became a matter of importance in the agriculture industry. It gained a countercultural following from the 1960’s to the 1970’s. It spawned a “back to the land” movement that ended rather poorly because while they had good ideas (such as not using harmful pesticides), they lacked the practical execution of their vision (the regenerative practices of the organic movement).
But their ideas lived on as more people started buying their food from co-ops or local farmers.
Eventually, the growing demand in the marketplace for organic foods made the government take enough notice to the point where they started to research then regulate organic practices.
What are the Differences between Organic and Regular Food?
The latest people to ask about it were the scientists at Stanford University. They conducted decades-long research, wondering how nutritious organic produce and meat were compared to their common practice counterparts. The results were surprising to say the least.
According to an interview with the Stanford team, other factors play more of a part in the nutrition value of grown produce. “However, other variables, like ripeness, may influence nutritional content even more. A peach or berry that reaches peak ripeness with the use of pesticides could contain considerably more vitamins than a less-ripe organically grown fruit.”
This means that organic food has little difference in nutritional value than conventional food.
But what about livestock and their byproduct?
It turns out, there is a slight difference but not one that is not enough to make much of a large impact. “The Stanford researchers noted that organic milk does have modestly higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, based on a few small studies included in the analysis.”
As far as pesticides causing harm to people eating food with them in the regulatory amounts, it can decrease the growth and performance of young children, pregnant women and the elderly with chronic health problems, but not drastically so.
A Different Kind of Health Impact
If it is just cheaper to buy food grown with pesticides, then why are we doing this organic stuff anyway? Isn’t it easier to buy regular groceries?Well, the answer to that is a little complicated. While it doesn’t impact your nutrition, organic farming does have a benefit for the farmers and the environment.
Farmers who are regularly exposed to large quantities of pesticide are more likely to get cancer. So do the animals that are exposed to the same pesticides. Some of these pesticides are banned, while others, that are carcinogenic to animals, are still in use. Studies have been conducted and continued by the
EPA and AHA, determining that pesticides in large doses are making people and animals sick.
So, if you are concerned about the environment and the health of our local farmers and are willing to buy pay a few dollars extra for groceries, maybe you want to stick with Wholefoods. If you are too broke, continue to buy regular groceries with the occasional trip to the farmer’s market. Either way, it is not going to make much of a difference to your body.