According to the Organic Trade Association, organic food was a $29 billion industry in 2010 and is still growing. New York Times recently reported on a meta-study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, finding little to no health benefits from eating organic.
Smith-Spangler, at Stanford University School of Medicine, collected some 200
peer-reviewed studies that followed people who were eating either organic or
conventional food. The meta-analysis looked for evidence that the choice in organic food made a difference in the consumer's health. As expected, there were fewer pesticides found on organic
produce; but the study found that vast majority of conventionally grown
food did not exceed allowable limits of pesticide residue set by federal
regulations. There is one study that Smith-Spangler reviewed which showed organically
grown tomatoes contained significantly higher levels of antioxidant compounds;
but as the meta-study concluded, the tomato study is only one study of one vegetable in one field. The
meta-study revealed no conclusive patterns of increased nutrients in other organic
But before conclusions are made and the curtain is drawn on organics, let’s look at
exactly why we need to consume “organics.” Organic farming is a different style
of agriculture. Organic farmers often grow a variety of crops to control pests.
This increases biodiversity and ensures a level of security from single crop
failure. Organic farmers also control the nutrients in their soil through
compost or nitrogen-fixing plants thus reducing chemical run-off that could contaminate
our water supply. Most organic farmers also supply to local markets, making
their carbon footprint smaller from less packaging and transportation needs. Organic meats also contain less antibiotic-resistant bacteria; feeding less antibiotics to livestock reduces the likelihood of antibiotic-resistant super-bugs from wrecking havoc.