By Rose Eveleth
Posting in Food
Researchers look at over 200 studies of the health benefits behind organic food, and find that there aren't really any.
A common mantra of the organic food movement is that food grown in a healthy way is healthier for you. Well, it turns out that might not actually be the case.
A new study out of Stanford University compared organic fruits and vegetables with their conventionally grown counter parts for nutrients. They found that the expensive, organic goods were no more nutritious than their lowly conventional brothers and sisters. The same researchers came to the same conclusion about meats - no obvious health advantages.
The press release sums up the study's methodology:
For their study, the researchers sifted through thousands of papers and identified 237 of the most relevant to analyze. Those included 17 studies (six of which were randomized clinical trials) of populations consuming organic and conventional diets, and 223 studies that compared either the nutrient levels or the bacterial, fungal or pesticide contamination of various products (fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, milk, poultry, and eggs) grown organically and conventionally. There were no long-term studies of health outcomes of people consuming organic versus conventionally produced food; the duration of the studies involving human subjects ranged from two days to two years.
Aside from phosphorous, no other nutrient was more prevalent in organic foods than in conventionally grown products. While the study did find higher levels of pesticides on non-orgnanic goodies, they were always within health regulations, and below dangerous levels.
If you're surprised by the results, so were the study authors. The New York Times reports:
“When we began this project, we thought that there would likely be some findings that would support the superiority of organics over conventional food,” said Dr. Dena Bravata, a senior affiliate with Stanford’s Center for Health Policy and the senior author of the paper, which appears in Tuesday’s issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. “I think we were definitely surprised.”
And, before you write this study off as an attack on organic funded by big factory farm machines (which certainly exist) this study was entirely funded internally. No outside funding pushed the study either way.
These results probably won't impact the sale of organic food in the United States, which has grown quickly in the last few years. Since 2010, the Organic Trade Association estimates that sales of organic food has increased 12 percent, to $12.4 billion. And not everyone buys organic for the health benefits. Some people choose the green sticker for social or economic reasons. Others simply think the food tastes better. But if you're buying it solely for health reasons, your money is probably better spent elsewhere.
Image: Mike Coghlan
Sep 3, 2012
I have to disagree with saying organic food is not better for you, while there are some studies saying it contains little or no more nutrients than other food there are plenty of others saying that it is actually higher in nutrient content. However what is really important is that organic food has known of the pesticides or herbicides that are present on other normally grown foods and that does make it a whole lot better for you. I only eat organic and even grow my own veges which is actually quite easy and makes the whole exercise lots cheaper, as a matter of fact its really so simple that everyone can do this just by following a process like is shown here http://groworganics.net/.
Do some research on the benefits of organic food and I will guarantee there are way more positive than negative findings
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"the study did find higher levels of pesticides on non-orgnanic goodies" that's the key sentence, do u need any other proof making you choose organic foods? personally, i do not
I have one thing to say... if its not 100% organic, its GMO which is TERRIBLE for you. They did a study where they fed mice gm corn and other mice were fed regular corn. The mice fed genetically modified corn (NON-ORGANIC) they got tumors!! http://www.naturalnews.com/037249_GMO_study_cancer_tumors_organ_damage.html#ixzz2RoKbYL5B http://www.naturalnews.com/037262_gmo_monsanto_debate.html#ixzz2RoK8iydC
Anyone who thinks there is no difference between organic and non organic needs to realize these studies have to be looked at with a critical eye.( There is a big difference between the two types of food) 1. The study is funded by non organic sources of funds meaning conflict of interest. 2. The study itself may be set up not to view the facts that are showing a difference. For example they are ignoring the scientific facts about GMOs vs Organic and just listening to the PR put out by the company funding the study or the University just happens to be getting large amounts of money from the company. There are many many other ways these studies are set up to get the desired results. Having eaten organics for nearly 40 years I can tell you making a statement as in this article is totally irresponsible. Any one can fund a study and design the results. Check out the video called Genetic Roulette if you are interested in finding out how the food industry is frauding the American people.
... is like asking whether an electric blanket keeps warmer than a Bengal tiger lying in bed next to you.
Okay its not scientific but when ever someone starts telling me about how organic food is not better and that I could be saving money by eating food produced using chemical (safe?) production methods I just tell them to try an Organic Green tea from Eco Market here http://www.ecomarket.com/discover/organic-food/natural-drink/tea/organic-green-tea/ and compare the taste with non naturally grown and its so obvious the effect that these chemicals have on reducing the flavours in food and drink.
The actual term refers to the way through which agricultural products are processed and grown, meeting specific requirements. Organic crops need to have no modifications, grow in safe soil, and remain separate from any other conventional products. http://wholefoodsconnection.com/organic-food.html
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Actually, it's quite simple. Organic Food = Natural Food (sustainable, environmentally friendly, non-toxic) Non-Organic Food = Unnatural Food (genetically modified, irradiated, carcinogenic) And we all know which is actually better for you. Wouldn't even Rose Eveleth choose natural over unnatural? It's rather obvious who paid her to write this article.
Very shoddy reporting - not worthy of your publication. Stanford research gets multi-million dollar grants from Bill Gates who is a major stockholder of Monsanto and Cargill. No wonder they found "facts" - rather published lies - about organic food - it's all about the money stupid and greed ala Gates Monsanto et al.
Exactly what the level of exposure to pesticides is safe is still controversial, and may vary form individual to individual. Further, organic products are not allowed to contain Genetically Modified ingredients, where novel proteins of dubious safety will be present.
"There were no long-term studies of health outcomes of people consuming organic versus conventionally produced food; the duration of the studies involving human subjects ranged from two days to two years." In other word, the study isn't worth anything. People die because of decades of abuse. "While the study did find higher levels of pesticides on non-orgnanic goodies, they were always within health regulations, and below dangerous levels." If it's dangerous, and not just "small amounts are good, but too much is really, really bad, like copper, iron,etc." dangerous, but "all-bad and no good" dangerous, I really don't care what some government agent tells me is "OK." Sheesh...these are the same people that experiment on our soldiers.
Numerous studies like the one reviewed have already pointed out the the lack of superior nutrition, and even the decreased safety from "organic" food choices due to higher bacterial loads from "organic" manuring. Sure traditional NPK food production has had instances where chemicals were not used well. However, and just a clue, "organic E. coli can be just as fatal as traditionally produced E. coli and much more likely to be found on "organic foods" where anti-bacterial washes aren't used. The vast majority of the people who buy "organic" do so because they think it is a blanket solution to good nutrition and good health and unfortunately it isn't that simple. In reality they either don't have the technical background, or simply can't take the time to be better informed. Where as if they improved their knowledge of food production science and nutrition they could be far healthier whether they used "organic" or not. If they never had heard the term "organic foods", but if they selected their foods better - avoided simple carbs, consumed more Omega-3s and less Omega-6s, had under 2 oz. of alcohol intake/day - red wine preferably, kept their weight proportional to their build (forget the height to wt. BMI - total medical fraud measurement) and got regular moderate exercise they would be far healthier than the most religiously "organic food consumer" - and far ahead economically both in food costs and medical bills. All you have to do is read the "pro-organic" comments here to understand that the "pro-organic" following is based on more cult/religion than well based nutrition and scientific analysis.
5 Ways the Stanford Study Sells Organics Short: In reality, though, the study in some places makes a strong case for organicâthough you'd barely know it from the language the authors use. And in places where it finds organic wanting, key information gets left out. To assess the state of science on organic food and its health benefits, the authors performed what's known among academics as a "meta-analysis"âthey gathered all the research papers they could find on the topic dating back decades, eliminated ones that didn't meet their criteria for scientific rigor, and summarized the results. To read more and explore the Research Links, the entire Article by Tom is here (Good work, Tom!): http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/09/five-ways-stanford-study-underestimates-organic-food
I think studies of studies are not research and any findings are vague at best. People don't do research anymore, they do studies of studies of studies. The farther away you get from the original data the more off-base the results. Anyone who has ever written a term paper on a scientific subject knows that. I buy organic foods because 'USDA certified organic' means no 'genetically modified organisms' - no plant genes combined with insect genes or animal genes and sold to me without informing me. An organic tomato is a tomato not a lab experiment passed off as food. I buy organic because organic produce has less pesticides and it has to be handled and processed in specific ways to keep it's certification. I buy organic because I saw substantive improvements in our family health after a few weeks of organic foods. So significantly fewer pesticides, and no GMO's translates into fewer illnesses and better health in our household. To buy unadulterated food with the lowest amounts of pesticides, processing chemicals and unwanted food additives or colorings, you have to buy organic. It's a shame that we have to pay a premium for what a hundred years ago would have just been called 'food', but that seems to be the price of progress. If you don't feel you can afford organic, then at least buy fresh unprocessed produce. Buy real food, not chemical-laden lab experiments in a box or can. Food grown in a healthy way really is healthier for you, and the planet, too. And you don't need a study of a study to confirm that. You can prove it to yourself.
Nothing mentioned about GMO's in the article. That IS one of the main reasons these days to buy organic. Then the article says, "While the study did find higher levels of pesticides on non-orgnanic goodies, they were always within health regulations, and below dangerous levels." Who is gauging what is below dangerous levels? And why support Monsanto by buying food made this way? Monsanto is US Govt-subsidized, and that makes for cheaper food. And if GMO foods are so great, why doesn't Monsanto label their products as such? Here's a very informative article: http://procinctu.info/food/monsanto/
"The results show that the pesticides were within health regulations and below dangerous levels". Says who! What is exceptable and who sets the limits. It used to be a cholesteral levels of 200 was good,but in the last 20 years or so it has dropped to about 120. That should be worth mega trillions to the pharma industry! Exceptable radiation levels were recently raised in the US because Fukushima has contaminated the ocean and air. Maybe they just want a few extra to die so we can depopulate the US! All I can say is follow the money and you will usually find the source. Terrible article Rose!
The title of this post is obviously overstating the findings. And besides... "There were no long-term studies of health outcomes of people consuming organic versus conventionally produced food."
We buy organic food to avoid the pesticides that evil giants like Monsanto try to foist on us, not because we think they offer better nutrition. Much like taste, if nutrition is lacking in a fruit or vegetable, regardless of how it's grown, you can likely trace the cause to genetics. When they started breeding tomatoes that could be picked green and survive cross country transit, that's when we started sacrificing taste and nutrition in the favor of saleability. Now that everyone is using those types of seeds, a vine ripened locally grown tomato no longer tastes as good as the "Jersey Tomatos" I recall from my childhood.
And I quote: "There were no long-term studies of health outcomes of people consuming organic versus conventionally produced food; the duration of the studies involving human subjects ranged from two days to two years." Very disappointed with the author for the misleading headline.
There is so much information not included in the reporting of this study to make this article virtually worthless.
The real issue is the traits introduced to the non-organic foods whose transgenic properties have been shown to be spreading throughout the biosphere. These traits in humans are beginning to manifest some serious pathological and genetic issues. The issue skirted by this "expose" is Food Purity, which IS a major issue as these traits move through the genetics of non-GMO plants ever more readily. Add that to the issues expressed in the comments above, then the the fact Monsanto just spent $29.3M to develop RNA interruption technology to create a whole new system of Pesticides and Herbicides, and of course the resistance traits for all their seed and plant products. I've yet to see any definitive independent research about what happens when these new traits are ingested by the Animals and Us. This Video refutes this "Study": http://naturalsociety.com/ridiculous-study-claims-organic-same-as-conventional/ there's additional facts and links here: http://www.naturalnews.com/037065_organic_foods_mainstream_media_psyop.html
With 30% less Cancer from switching from preserved cold meat to whole meats, which is well documented this report falls short of its responsibility as being a complete picture.
"There were no long-term studies of health outcomes of people consuming organic versus conventionally produced food; the duration of the studies involving human subjects ranged from two days to two years." Exactly, asbestos, cigarettes, coal dust, etc. don't cause harm in two years! Get real. It IS the long term exposure that needs to be studied. This study is worthless!
"There were no long-term studies of health outcomes of people consuming organic versus conventionally produced food; the duration of the studies involving human subjects ranged from two days to two years." Revisit this study in 25 years and I guarantee you that will be a mountain of evidence to support the organic diet over the chemical-friendly one. Come on, you can't make sweeping conclusions like this after "two days to two years". This study is a joke. Like the previous contributor said, "Firstly, we'd need to know more about the trials Stanford studied. Trials which don't support their funders hypotheses are less likely to be published, so there might be a bias in the information available.
The weak link in this chain is the way in which "below dangerous levels" is defined. Whenever government gets involved in defining such terms there is a breakdown in communications. The board that decides what is "organic" and what is not consists of seven appointed "individuals" . I use quotes because 5 of them are actually corporations that engage in mega-farming. The two that are supposed to represent consumers are not exactly independent either. At least 2 dozen artificial chemicals are allowed to be added to "organic foods" up to 2%, by weight, and still be labeled organic! More are on the way. Pesticides, herbicides and some petrochemical fertilizers can be harmful at below the legal levels as well. No wonder "There were no long-term studies of health outcomes of people consuming organic versus conventionally produced food." Another way organic is misleading is that the water used to irrigate the crops is not regulated and could (and does) contain contaminates such as lead and mercury that are actually accumulated and increased in such crops as "organic baby greens" to levels higher than was in the water. Sometimes as much as 10 or 15 times higher! Government, get out of our food. And stop letting big corporations define the terms and safety of the crops they sell. The only way to be sure is to have a victory garden in your own back yard (or apartment patio). We are what we eat, but it is getting harder to know what that is.
The significant reduction of pesticides, herbicides and industrial fertilizer into the environment is reason enough to support Organic. My brother is a Organic Farmer, he follows strict guidelines including recycling/reusing water, no pesticides or herbicides..which does increase energy usage, but the alternative is putting toxins in the ground, that eventually end up in aquafers and rivers, which eventually end up in the ocean. I'll take a little more energy usages over that.
Many large industrial organic farms are energy-intensive operations using large amounts of fossil fuel--not the bucholic pasture-based model most people think of. However, the organic food movement is viable not just because of the pesticide-free food. It's also about taking a stand against the chemically-intensive highly-processed GMO corn and soybean-based industrial food system that produces almost all of our food today. If I have my choice between eating beef produced by a CAFO (confined animal feeding opertion) where cattle stand knee-deep in their own waste and are fed a steady diet of GMO corn, or one that has eaten only grass and not been pumped full of antibiotics (cleverly described as "nutritional supplements"), I'll take the one grown on grass. Furthermore, I've not been eating organic because of the superior nutritional qualities. I eat it because there are so many toxins in the environment, I'm simply trying to tip the scales in my favor when it comes to staying healthy. For in the end, none of us really know why we get certain diseases like MS, Parkinsons, and cancer.
Firstly, we'd need to know more about the trials Stanford studied. Trials which don't support their funders hypotheses are less likely to be published, so there might be a bias in the information available. Secondly, public health isnt the only issue behind organic farming. Environmental and sustainability issues are also important.
I second the sentiment of No Excuse! Other's have covered the scientific irrelevance and folly of this "study", but I have to add my outrage at the writer of this article for Smart Planet . I think we could legitimately expect more savvy and critical thinking on this platform, if the name is justified. At the best case, this article is a let-down for its laziness, but it actually seems to celebrate the foolish conclusions of the "study". No excuse!
It's the large Food companies (aka Big Food) that are asking to add more synthetic chemicals, not the Government. We need the Government to oversee and reduce the corruption of the USDA Organic system. They are the only entity with enough power to protect smaller independent farmers from being overrun.
You can't say, "Government, get out of our food" and then in the next sentence say "stop letting big corporations define the terms and safety of the crops they sell." You have to pick one or the other. For all its weaknesses and flaws, I'll pick government to protect me rather than big corporations.
The rules for what qualifies as organic are inconsistent with the perception and enforcement is so lax that local news stations have made headlines this summer by doing pesticide testing on organic labeled foods. And find it. So called organic pesticides, such as a rotenone-pyrethrin mixture, can be toxic. At recommended application levels it takes 7 applications to equal the toxicity of a single application of synthetic pesticides. Because of their perceived/real reduced effectiveness compared to synthetic pesticides they are often improperly mixed or excessively applied by farmers. Both of which quickly closes the gap on synthetics. http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~lhom/organictext.html
You are right to point out that organic farms are just as mechanized as non-organic farms. But GMO products are just as prevalent on store shelves as they are in the feedlot. And as the Stanford study points out, they can't find any major nutritional differences between organic and non-organic products in the supermarket. Thus your assertion of the "chemically-intensive highly-processed GMO corn and soybean-based industrial food system" is just emotional hype without merit. Most cattle that wind up in feedlots actually spend the first two years of their lives (the majority) on the range eating grass. However, if you find value in organic food you should be able to purchase it if you're willing to pay the premium. Unfortunately, most people in the world are not nearly as affluent as you and could never afford organic. What they get instead with modern agricultural methods is a chance at a balanced diet that allows their bodies and minds to grow to their full potential.
I choose organic primarily for the reduction of chemicals used in the growing cycle. I choose my vegan diet for the health benefits. My carbon footprint is 20% of the normal animal protein based diet. And with the vegan diet the costs of organic are balanced by the replacement of animal proteins.
I agree. As soon as I saw the headline, I had to wonder who funded the study. Unfortunately, most of the research funding once financed by the bugaboo of "big government" is now funded by corporations with a stake in the outcome - from medical to agricultural. It mostly all has to be tainted.
This is one of a long series of studies that have shown basically the same thing, there is no difference nutritionally or toxicologically , at least large enough between organic foods and traditional agriculture food productions to warrant spending the money on them. In fact, some studies have shown your chances of coming down with bacterial investions like E. coli and or Salmonella are actually much higher when choosing organic foods because of their association with manures. Organic technically and economically is a major marketing ploy. Worse, if the entire world went to organic food production a large percentage of the world population would starve to death. If you really want universal organic food production, you need to understand that you are also for dramatic human population reduction - down to about 2 billion. That's the last population level that organic production methods actually supported. Sorry to bother you with those facts.
Natural pesticides like rotenone and pyrethrin break down rapidly. That's why they have to be applied frequently. Makes them safer as well, since they don't have long-term toxicity. Good organic farmers use a variety of pest control strategies other than spraying pesticides, such as interplanting different crops to confuse or repel pests, creating conditions that encourage predators, or releasing predators. I suspect the study you link to was funded by agribusiness interests.
@zackers. do you by any chance work for the government? if not, you seem to be very trusting. Your cavalier dismissal of any worries about GMO foods may be reassuring to some, but just because they may be plentiful on supermarket shelves, doesn't automatically make them acceptable for consumption. You seem to display a sneering attitude towards someone who is 'affluent enough' to afford organic. Presumably you are happy to eat anything that Big Food throws at you. Perhaps you're even happy to eat pink slime, if it is still available. It may seem strange to you, but a lot of people are not happy eating pesticide sprayed food or antibiotic injected meat (probably the same people who are, in your eyes, affluent enough) I'm not sure that synthetic chemicals allow bodies and minds to grow to their full potential.
High soybean intake has been linked to men's health issues (including increased estrogen levels); this is not merely an emotional link without merit.
A study leaked to momsacrossamerica.com on GMO corn versus Non-GMO corn reveals some new info, not only on nutrition, but on how toxic and poisonous GMO crops are. This study was done on 2 corn fields grown side by side (keep in mind that this study is not about organic versus non-organic, but GMO, versus Non-GMO... It's fascinating, altering the genes had unforeseen side effects that make GMO crops horrible in comparison to their Non-GMO cousins... Moms Across America is credited with breaking the report, but Permaculture News a much better write up on it. http://permaculturenews.org/2013/04/22/stunning-difference-of-gm-from-non-gm-corn/ Here is a snipet from that.. As Zen Honeycutt, who posted the report commented, glyphosate, shown to be toxic at 1 ppm, is present at 13 ppm in the GM corn. Similarly, formaldehyde at 200 ppm is 200 times the level known to be toxic in animals. The GM corn was also severely depleted in essential minerals: 14 ppm vs 6 130 ppm calcium; 2 ppm vs 113 ppm of magnesium; 2 ppm vs 14 ppm of manganese; 3 ppm vs 44 ppm of phosphate; 3 ppm vs 42 ppm of sulphur, and so on. The report includes complete charts and the differences are stunning. Back to organic vs non-organic, all the rest of the studies (aside from the Stanford one) have always said organic was on average 25% more nutritious than non organic (and as much as 70% in some cases). And that makes sense considering non-organic is fertilized with a few chemicals and those chemicals never replace the minerals and nutrients in the soil. And we knew GMOs were much higher in allergens than Non-GMOs, but we didnt expect to see this big of a difference in two chemically fertilized crops, grown side by side, one being GMO and the other Non-GMO That makes me wonder how much more nutritious organic is versus GMO, that has got to be off the chart. And to think that 93% of soy in the entire world is GMO, and soy is in almost everything now days That is a little frightening. GMO crops are doused repeatedly in Glyphosate (plants absorb what is in the soil and water... duh), with all those chemical fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, pesticides, etc, it's not surprising that we are finding out just how toxic they are. If we go to organic versus non organic, we have the same story, the only difference is that we dont have Glyphosate and a GMO mutation in the corn. Aside from the chemicals and toxins, non-organic could never have the same nutrition as organic because the nutrients are not present in the soil where the non organics grow (they have been depleated and have never been replaced). And if those nutrients are not present, they are not going to make it into the plants. So I would say with 100% certainty that Stanford is full of cr@p and that report isnt worth the TP it was printed on.
Bill Gates thinks reducing the human population is a good idea. He also supports genetically engineered food production. In other words you reduce the population by feeding it GM foods...
I use natural fly predators to reduce the deer flies and nematodes in standing water for mosquito control. Both are much safer to use around grazing horses. One big thing many people do not think of with organic vegetables is you still need to wash them because of pathogens that can get on the food. Somehow organic means CLEAN to them. Animal/bird droppings, etc. still happen on organic farms. Even indoor grown hydroponic food items should still be washed because of pathogens transmitted from handling.
The biggest estrogen problems first come from diet choices (too many simple carbs) unrelated to soy. If you are obese (increased fat levels produce higher estrogen levels - in men and women) you might be wiser to first lose weight and then think about your soy consumption - either organic or regular.