Scientists: Organic Food is mostly hype

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Going organic could lead to a letdown, researchers find

Evidence that the natural foods offer a real nutritional advantage is scanty.

Updated: 2012-09-05T07:34:42Z
Breaking News


WASHINGTON -- Patient after patient asked: Is eating organic food, which costs more, really better for me?

Unsure, Stanford University doctors dug through reams of research to find out — and concluded there’s little evidence that going organic is much healthier. They cited only a few differences involving pesticides and antibiotics.

Eating organic fruits and vegetables can lower exposure to pesticides, including for children — but the amount measured from conventionally grown produce was within safety limits, the researchers reported Monday.

Nor did the organic foods prove more nutritious.

“I was absolutely surprised,” said Dena Bravata, a senior research affiliate at Stanford and long-time internist who began the analysis because so many of her patients asked if they should switch.

“There are many reasons why someone might choose organic foods over conventional foods,” from environmental concerns to taste preferences, Bravata stressed. But when it comes to individual health, “there isn’t much difference.”

Also surprised — and skeptical of the study — were several sellers and buyers of organic food in the Kansas City area.

They believe that eating food grown without artificial insecticides or pesticides has to be healthier than other produce.

Randy Miller, produce manager at Green Acres Market in the Northland, said his customers don’t want the chemicals associated with non-organic foods. Organic produce is grown with just “dirt and air,” Miller said.

“People who are buying organic honestly believe it’s good for them and their health,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what the cost is or what surveys say. They’re going to do it anyway.”

Organic foods account for 4.2 percent of retail food sales, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It certifies products as organic if they meet certain requirements including being produced without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, or routine use of antibiotics or growth hormones.

Consumers can pay a lot more for some organic products, but demand is rising: Organic foods accounted for $31.4 billion sales last year, according to a recent Obama administration report. That’s up from $3.6 billion in 1997.

Although organic produce can be pricey, Dave Lawrence, senior co-coordinator of the Kansas City Food Circle, said he works it into his grocery list because of the positive payoff for his health — and the environment’s.

“It’s not just what you pay at the supermarket,” Lawrence said. “It’s how you pay for it in health issues later on, in the short term and long term. It’s up to us a nation to decide: How well do we want to eat? How well do we want to live?”

The Food Circle helps consumers get in touch with organic and free-range farmers in the area, according to the group’s website.

Nature’s Own Market’s produce manager Sean Destin said customers come to the Kansas City store for organic fruits and vegetables because they believe they taste better than conventional produce.

“It tastes like the thing it’s supposed to be,” he said. “A banana tastes like a banana. It doesn’t have any added banana flavor. I think people understand that their bodies are made out of what they put in it.”

The Stanford team combed through thousands of studies to analyze the 237 that most rigorously compared organic and conventional foods. Bravata was dismayed that just 17 compared how people fared eating either diet while the rest investigated properties of the foods themselves.

Organic produce had a 30 percent lower risk of containing detectable pesticide levels. In two studies of children, urine testing showed lower pesticide levels in those on organic diets. But Bravata cautioned that both groups harbored very small amounts — and said one study suggested insecticide use in their homes may be more to blame than their food.

Still, some studies have suggested that even small pesticide exposures might be risky for some children, and the Organic Trade Association said the Stanford work confirms that organics can help consumers lower their exposure.

Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, noted that difference, but added that the issue is more complicated.

Some fruits and vegetables can harbor more pesticide residue than others — she listed peaches from Chile as topping a recent testing list. Overall levels have dropped in North American produce over the last decade as farms implemented some new standards addressing child concerns, she said.

“Parents with young children should consider where their produce is coming from,” DeWaal said, calling types grown in the U.S. or Canada “a safer bet” for lower pesticide levels.

As for antibiotics, some farms that aren’t certified organic have begun selling antibiotic-free meat or hormone-free milk, to address specific consumer demands, noted Bravata. Her own preference is to buy from local farmers in hopes of getting the ripest produce with the least handling.

Bravata’s team did find a notable difference with antibiotic-resistant germs, a public health concern because they are harder to treat if they cause food poisoning.

Specialists long have said that organic or not, the chances of bacterial contamination of food are the same, and Monday’s analysis agreed.

But when bacteria did lurk in chicken or pork, germs in the non-organic meats had a 33 percent higher risk of being resistant to multiple antibiotics, the researchers reported Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

That finding comes amid debate over feeding animals antibiotics, not because they’re sick but to fatten them up. Farmers say it’s necessary to meet demand for cheap meat. Public health advocates say it’s one contributor to the nation’s growing problem with increasingly hard-to-treat germs. DeWaal counted 24 outbreaks linked to multidrug-resistant germs in food between 2000 and 2010.

The government has begun steps to curb the nonmedical use of antibiotics on the farm.

Lauran Neergaard of The Associated Press and Sangeeta Shastry of The Star contributed to this report.
 

d0uche_n0zzle

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Keep your chemicals, maaan. I'll stick to my less poisoned foods.
 

whiskeyguy

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I've been saying this for a while. My mother's side of the family is in the cattle business, my father's side farms in the California Central Valley. Both go organic to some extent or another, but simply for the added income. There have actually been studies that say not being exposed to a very diluted amount of chemicals limits the body's natural ability to build immunity to them, which will make you susceptible to getting sick when you're inevitably exposed to them in the future.

Also organic farming is less efficient, meaning you can feed less people for the same amount of money, using the same amount of land.
 

Mags

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Got any links to those trendy-studies?

I'll take less poison in my food over more poison, thank you.
 

Creasy Bear

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These globalist lies don't fool Kirk. He'll continue to go to Whole Foods and demand that they take his money.
 

Neon

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Not to mention the Greenwashing industry. The term "organic" is a big money maker, both because of the people who only buy organic, and due to the fact that you can get away charging more for organic food. And since there is no definitive standard on what constitutes organic food, I'd guess that plenty of organic-only people are eating food that is no different from non-organic brands, but is presented as such because of a technicality, or flat out lie.
 
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“It tastes like the thing it’s supposed to be,” he said. “A banana tastes like a banana. It doesn’t have any added banana flavor. I think people understand that their bodies are made out of what they put in it.”
Does that idiot really think that farmers are adding artificial flavors to foods if the food isn't organic? He should watch the episode of Penn & Teller's Bullshit that deals with organic food--especially the part where they have people taste the bananas.
 

whiskeyguy

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[video=youtube;8Zqe4ZV9LDs]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Zqe4ZV9LDs[/video]

Love the hipster reaction when they are told they chose non organic.
 

whiskeyguy

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Never really thought beef was very 'organic'.
You can absolutely have organic beef. You just have to use organic feed... either via hay/grain or make sure your pastures are organic. I think there are also limitations as to what type of vaccinations and other medicines you can give them.
 

Sunsetspawn

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I'm cheap and lazy, and therefore don't do organic too often, but I absolutely don't believe that "organic food is mostly hype." Though I'm pretty sure with shit like bananas and oranges the thick skin, that you don't eat, prevents the pesticides from penetrating the edible portion of the fruit.
 

Norm Stansfield

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I'm cheap and lazy, and therefore don't do organic too often, but I absolutely don't believe that "organic food is mostly hype."
Everyone's entitled to their opinion. You think organic food is better, scientists think you're a moron.
 

Neon

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Why do people assume that pesticide technology has not evolved since the days they just dropped toxic poison on crops? Do you really think that all the biologists, chemists, doctors, etc. in that industry all just don't care? Or maybe they understand the topic on a deeper level than "PESITICIDES KILL THINGS SO THEY ARE BAD FOR YOU!!!"

Chocolate will kill your dog. Avocado will kill an Iguana. You don't think it's possible to create something that will keep food pest free but will not leech into your food and give you brain fever?
 
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Anyone with a half a brain should know organic is bullshit. It MAY taste better depending on what it was fed if its an animal but nutrition wise organic is absolute horse shit.
 

Neon

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There's also another factor in play here - people who are organic-only tend to eat more healthy overall. Otherwise why go organic? That can cause the false perception that eating organic is healthier. If you just ate healthy period you'd be healthier. The organic part of it is irrelevant. I had a roommate once who would eat organic chocolate spread. I always thought it kinda defeated the purpose, unless you were paranoid about pesticides, which is just silly.
 

whiskeyguy

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I'm cheap and lazy, and therefore don't do organic too often, but I absolutely don't believe that "organic food is mostly hype." Though I'm pretty sure with shit like bananas and oranges the thick skin, that you don't eat, prevents the pesticides from penetrating the edible portion of the fruit.
Even with other fruits and vegetables, the chemicals are so diluted by the time you eat the food, their toxicity level are way within acceptable levels. We've been eating food treated with chemicals for decades, and our life expectancy has only increased during that time.

I'd much rather we fed more people with less land than depend on organic food.

Edit: I also get a kick out of the local hippies who obnoxiously champion the organic movement, then smoke their weed which is often treated with many more chemicals, at much higher levels.
 

Neon

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Yay, I'm healthy and eating only natural organic things, right before I take 600 mg of tricyclicedomoxin and 150 of blaxasolfurisol for my Restless Leg Syndrome.
 

Yesterdays Hero

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I prefer farmers market veggies/fruit. There's a huge difference in taste. Organic/regular? Both at the store? Same thing.
 

d0uche_n0zzle

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The real difference is the wetback picking it washes his hands with one, and not the other. Your choice on which is which.*



























*Wetbacks wash their hands after taking a dump. HAHAHAHAHAHA
 

whiskeyguy

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I prefer farmers market veggies/fruit. There's a huge difference in taste. Organic/regular? Both at the store? Same thing.
That's absolutely a valid point. The food is a lot fresher, and usually grown on smaller farms that spend more attention to detail. Also you're usually getting a better grade at the farmer's market, while lesser grades go to wholesale distribution plants.
 

Ballbuster1

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There have actually been studies that say not being exposed to a very diluted amount of chemicals limits the body's natural ability to build immunity to them, which will make you susceptible to getting sick when you're inevitably exposed to them in the future.

Yup. I'm a firm believer of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger".

Too many people running around using disinfectant wipes on everything
and trying to live in a bubble. Germs are here to stay. Get used to them.