Organic: Good, Not Great

While there certainly remains a number of convincing arguments for buying organic produce – you may be surprised to learn they don’t have to do with nutrition.

A review article to be published in the forthcoming issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine found that organic fruits and vegetables do not contain significantly higher contents of vitamins and minerals than do their conventionally grown counterparts.

The author-researchers from Stanford analyzed over 240 separate studies of nutrient content and pesticide residue. Their conclusion? That the published literature lacks strong evidence to support the notion that organic foods are significantly more nutrition than are conventional foods.

Despite what to many is a disappointing outcome on the nutrition front, the authors did note that organic produce is 30% less likely to be contaminated with pesticides than conventionally grown produce is.

Just 30%? Interesting, given that in order to participate in the USDA’s National Organic Program and carry the USDA Organic seal, a product has to be at least 95% free from pesticides (and genetic modification, irradiation, synthetic fertilizers and antibiotics).

The silver lining in the study was that although organic produce is less likely to be contaminated with pesticide residue, very little produce in the analyzed studies – whether organically or conventionally grown – were at risk for exceeding maximum pesticide residue limits.

If the higher cost of organic produce and the wash on their nutrient content still hasn’t put you off of purchasing organic, you’re not alone. According to the Organic Trade Association, U.S. sales of organic foods – which are sometimes double the price of their conventionally grown counterparts – increased from $1 billion in 1990 to almost $27 billion in 2010.

So don’t count organic foods out just yet, and to be fair, at least the study didn’t prove organics are less healthy! Organically grown fruits and vegetables are still better for our environment – and as a matter of personal opinion, they simply taste better.

If you find yourself on the fence when it comes to purchasing organic foods – check out the Environmental Working Group’s suggested shopping guide of which fruits and vegetables to buy organic and which ones you might not need to worry about.