Ken Spaeth, MD
Organic food is not more nutritious than conventional versions, according to a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Yet the journal article is easy to misinterpret because it is a comparison of organic food studies that are not based on human consumption in the real world. Rather, the primary settings for the current body of research are animal studies and laboratories.
Furthermore, much of the media attention, given to the article overlooked important concerns. Multiple studies show that organic produce can contain significantly higher levels of antioxidants than conventional produce, for example. Whether such higher levels of antioxidants result in better health remains unstudied. Additionally, there is significantly less pesticide residue on organic produce. In fact, studies show that organic diets reduce pesticide bi-products found in the urine by more than 85 percent. This begs the question as to whether the pesticides found in and on our food pose a risk. A lack of meaningful research hinders an answer to this question, though there one study linked pesticides from food to neurobehavioral problems in children.
Consider, too, that the Environmental Protection Agency uses assumptions, not facts, to formulate safety limits for pesticide residue allowed on our food and that federal safety limits are often erroneous.
So while there is no compelling evidence that organic produce, dairy and meat are more nutritious, there is hardly proof that our exposure to pesticides (and herbicides) is harmless.