Organic food seems like it is everywhere. You don’t have to drive to specialty stores anymore to find organic versions of your favorite foods, most grocery stores carry wide varieties of organic products. Many people would agree that organic food is a healthier and more nutritious option than “conventional” food. However, a large new research study suggests that organic produce and meat does not actually have a significant nutritional benefit over non-organic food.
This study out of Stanford University has its fair share of criticism. Since it is a meta-analysis, or a statistical look at many different research studies, it does not take into account the many levels of variability in agriculture. While it might not ever be possible to conclude with certainty that organic produce is more nutritious, there are some ways in which organic foods can be more nutritious. For example, organic produce is not treated with chemical pesticides and this can lead plants to boost their defenses with phytochemicals which are pest-repellents but healthy for humans.
The real issue to be investigated may be how much fruits and vegetables you eat and where they come from more than whether they are organic or not. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that at each meal your plate is half fruits and vegetables, yet on average people eat a little over one cup of vegetables a day and half a cup of fruit a day. Eating locally grown food is beneficial whenever possible, and as a general rule the shorter the time and distance is between when the food is picked to your plate the fresher and healthier it will be.
Next time you’re perusing the grocery aisles and you are considering the choice between organic and non-organic food, making the organic choice is generally better. You can also plan your healthy shopping lists around sales and what is in season to get the most for your money and for your health.