Whether eating organically grown foods is beneficial or not, often comes under hot debate. A recent study by Stanford University made headlines with their finding that organic foods are no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts. Let’s be clear this wasn’t a study per se, but a meta-analysis of studies already published. Stanford took the results of studies already done, crunched numbers for those studies and came to the conclusion that organic foods aren't any more nutritious than conventionally grown produce and meat.
Stanford missed out on the fundamental reasons people buy organic food. People buy organically grown foods because they are produced without the use of:
- artificial growth hormones
- high fructose corn syrup
- artificial dyes (made from coal tar and petrochemicals)
- artificial sweeteners derived from chemicals
- synthetically created chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers
- genetically engineered proteins and ingredients
- sewage sludge
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, it is these characteristics that differentiate organic foods from their conventional counterparts, so truly Stanford missed the mark with their study.
Stanford did not measure the insecticidal Bt toxins produced by genetically engineered corn, nor did they mention the 2011 study at Sherbrook University Hospital in Quebec in which this Bt toxin was found in 93% of the pregnant women tested, the umbilical blood of 80% of the unborn babies due to these women and 67% of the non-pregnant women tested. Stanford did not measure the growth hormones used in the US in conventional dairy production or their effects. They did not mention the fact 80 % of the antibiotics used today are used to treat the chicken, pork and beef we consume.
Stanford did not take in to consideration the stewardship of our land, the only land this planet has. They forgot to take into consideration the thousands of pounds of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides dumped onto farmland in order to grow conventional crops. These same chemicals leach into groundwater and make their way through run off to the oceans. They forgot to consider the health of the farm workers who apply these chemicals and harvest these crops or those living in the croplands who are exposed to chemical spray.
While organic produce and meats can be more expensive, it has been proven that eating organically grown foods reduces your exposure to the above toxins, the health effects of which we are unsure. The Environmental Working Group has published a list of the cleanest produce and the dirty dozen found here http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/. At the very least, buy the produce found in the dirty dozen, organically.
Buy and consume whole foods and remember that every time you put something in your mouth you are either investing in your health or doing harm on some level. Pre-packaged, processed foods are more likely to contain high fructose corn syrup, artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners, irradiated spices, and be stored in BPA lined cans, etc.
When we make a purchase we are voting with our dollars, buying organically grown foods says to big business we want things done differently. We are saying that what we eat isn’t about profit for large corporations. It is about fueling our bodies with clean, nutritious food.