Organic food is reportedly guaranteed to be free of all pesticides, hormones, and other unnatural elements manufacturers have used for ages. The only issue for consumers is that it costs more to eat this way. But at least it’s the healthiest choice, right? A new study out of Stanford University says maybe not.
This piece of health news will surely hit the mainstream media, as it questions the best health advice of many nutritionists. It is believed to be the biggest look at studies to date, which compared organic to conventional food. The result: no strong evidence says that organic foods are more nutritious or carry fewer health risks than conventional alternatives.
Organic food sales sat at more than $24.0 billion last year in the U.S. They are often twice as expensive. People perceive them to be better for health, but the question remained: are they really?
They found 237 studies, 17 of which looked at people who ate different diets, and 223 of which compared nutrient levels of various products like fruits, vegetables, poultry, meat, and milk. There have been no long-term studies on the health of people eating organically yet.
In this bounty of studies, they found little significant difference in health benefits between organic and conventional foods. In fact, only the mineral phosphorus was significantly higher in organic produce. In milk, there was no protein or fat difference, though organic milk might have more omega-3s.
I’d like to report which fruits or vegetables are healthier in organic form, but the study could not find the answers. The researchers report being surprised at this.
On the flip side, there is little evidence to say that conventional foods are more of a health risk. They did find that organic fruits and veggies had a 30% lower risk of pesticide contamination, but overall that organic foods weren’t 100% chemical-free.
This is all food for thought, but the most important message is that you should aim for a balanced, nutritious diet overall. Fruit and vegetables are key and there are few people who can say they get enough each week. Organic food often tastes better, which is one reason people might choose to spend the money. Another would be limiting pesticides in our environment and, for meat, treating animals kindly.