Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in their readiness to doubt. ~H.L. Mencken
A recent U.K. review on organic food studies concluded that organic food is not more nutritious than conventionally grown food. People are in an uproar! Bloggers are freaking out! Calm down folks, it's ok. MindfulEats is not surprised by the results, nor do we think it's the end of the earth. We actually think the review is awesome, because there's a lack of solid research in this area. Let's break it down:
First, let's look at the study. It's actually a review of studies by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine that was published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition July 2009. The goal was to try to determine whether there's a difference in nutrient quantity between organic and conventionally grown foods (produce and livestock.) To figure this out, the team found 52,471 articles on the topic in a 50 year period from 1958-2008. They then slogged through them and found 162 actual studies, of which only 55 were deemed satisfactory quality. How cool is that? A smart group of people looked at all the existing studies they could find, figured out what was good, then combed through it for conclusions. Awesome.
What did they determine? From the studies they looked at. there was no significant difference between nutrients in conventionally grown and organically grown foods. Nutrients are things like Vitamin A, B, and C. The important thing to remember is that they weren't looking at other items like antioxidents or toxins.
Bottom Line - if you are feeding you and those you love whole foods, no matter how they are grown, you are doing a great job. Pat yourself on the back. Whole foods have much more nutrition than processed food, any day of the year.
If you can afford a little more and buy organic food, that's even better. There are some foods (like spinach) that have higher concentrations of nutrients like iron, but what you are really buying is food that is pesticide free. Organic food is grown without chemicals, so it takes much more manual effort and provides less yield. That is why it is more expensive. Some evidence suggests that organically grown food has more antioxidents. Even though studies have not (yet) demonstrated that pesticides can harm you, why bother waiting? You get enough toxins in your daily life (pollution, car fumes, furniture), why consciously add more? And you are taking care of the environment.
What to do
- Eat more whole foods. It's always cheaper and better for you than processed.
- If you can afford organic, do so. If you are buying only part of your food organic, focus on meat, dairy, then the dirty dozen produce items.
Want to learn more?
- The review by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
- MindfulEats: The Low-Down on Organics
- Refuting the study: Beyond Pesticides and the Huffington Post
What I ate: 14 oz. vegetable juice, 2 hard boiled eggs, 10 oz. kefir, 1 banana, whole wheat spaghetti + basil + tomatoes + olive oil + garlic + spinach, 1 slice cheese pizza, 1 slice chocolate cake, 1 Gatorade, 3 slices Flying Pigs smoked tenderloin, macadamia nuts, Dale & Thomas movie popcorn, 1 cucumber, blueberries, cherries, 16 oz. milk, 50 oz. water
Exercise: 1.5 mile warmup, 5x 800m w 200 m recovery, 1.5 mile cool down