Is organic worth it?

A Stanford study on organic produce, meat, and dairy was released titled, No Benefit Was Noted for Buying Organic vs. Conventional Food.  However, when delving into the study’s findings there was more to the studies than the headline revealed.

     Most people choose organic to avoid exposure to pesticides, herbicides, hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals used in conventional farming.  Pesticide exposure has been found to be reduced when consuming organic foods; this is especially important for pregnant women, children, the elderly, and people dealing with chronic illnesses.   

            Some of the Stanford study findings were revealing.  One analysis that followed a group of children for years and found those who ate conventionally grown foods had 4-7% lower IQs than those who ate organic foods.  It has been found that there were 30% lower pesticide residue and 67% lower antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the urine of organic food consumers.  We do not know the long-term effects of pesticides.   Antibiotic-resistant infectious organisms could have huge societal implications because of an elevated risk of epidemics.   

     Another consideration is the nutritional composition of food.  Foods raised organically must compete to live causing them to develop healthful phytonutrients such as antioxidants, vitamin C, and polyphenols.  Conventionally raised foods are typically only fed potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorous.  Furthermore, unlike fifty years ago, crops are not rotated. When they haven’t been rotated the soil becomes depleted of trace minerals necessary for many vital functions in the body. Selenium and chromium are two examples of trace minerals.   

     Organic growing has lower environmental impacts. It is better for the planet.  Organic farm workers are not exposed to chemicals. These chemicals have been linked to cancers such as non-Hodgkins lymphoma, multiple myeloma, soft tissue sarcoma, and cancers of the skin, lip, stomach, brain, and prostate. 

      The team lead, Stanford researcher, Dena Bravata, M.D. said, the aim of the research was to educate consumers, not discourage organic food consumption.  “If you look beyond health effects there are plenty of reasons to buy organic instead of conventional.”  She cited environmental impacts and animal welfare as just a couple of the reasons.  NBC News medical correspondent, Nancy Snyderman, spoke about her concerns with the lack of knowledge about the long-term implications of some of the chemicals used in conventional farming.

Dr. Mary’s advice is:

Buy locally whenever you can. It is fresher food and not as likely to be large-scale agribusiness. This means fewer chemicals and greater nutrients.  Some foods are listed as “the dirty dozen.”  Andrew Weill M.D., “father” of integrated medicine says he wouldn’t eat a grocery store strawberry. 

Conventional produce TO AVOID– Here is a list of foods that have high levels of chemical contamination. Bell peppers, peaches, apples, imported nectarines, and grapes. Strawberries, cherries, pears, spinach, potatoes, lettuce, celery, cucumbers, and green beans. These have all made various lists of foods to avoid buying conventionally.   

Conventional produce LESS HARMFUL– Other foods are less important to buy organically so you can save a little money and buy conventionally.  These include onions, pineapple, avocados, cabbage, peas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplants, kiwi, grapefruit, and mushrooms. 

     Everyone involved in health care today, including the Stanford researchers, agrees that we all need to eat more produce.  To optimize your health, increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables.  Strategically choose what you buy organically.    

I believe nutrition is the chemistry that runs the body.  Consequently, what you eat matters and Organic Food Can MATTER! 


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