Is Organic Food Really Healthier?

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Organic food is usually thought of as healthy and nutritious, but a claim that eating organic is not all it’s cracked up to be is sparking major controversy.

A new study from Stanford University set out to compare the nutrition of organic and non-organic foods. Researchers analyzed over 200 relevant papers and found no significant difference in the health benefits between organic and conventional foods. Phosphorus was actually the only nutrient that proved to be higher in organic food. However, because few people have a phosphorus deficiency, the researchers determined that it has little clinical significance and thus irrelevant. Additionally, there was no difference in the content of protein or fat between organic and conventional milk.

While much of the data analyzed compared factors such as nutrient, bacteria and pesticide levels between organically and conventionally grown foods, it is important to note that there were no long-term studies of health outcomes of people’s consumption for longer than two years. So it is still unknown if there are more long-term health benefits of eating organically.

“Although the study states otherwise, organic food goes beyond conventional methods to help reduce chemical exposure to food and retains vital nutrients that are often lost,” says nutritionist Paula Simpson.

But just because the health benefits of eating organically are unclear, doesn’t mean there aren’t any. There is an allowable level of pesticides in conventional foods, but does that mean it is safe to consume them? “Your best insurance is to minimize exposure as much as you can,” Simpson explains.

So should we continue to eat organically? Paula Simpson thinks so. “If you can, yes. You are essentially trying to minimize exposure to chemicals or by-products and consume foods that are ‘potentially’ more nutrient dense. This is a ‘cleaner’ approach to eating and in return a more health promoting diet in the long-term.”

Do you agree with Simpson or do you think Stanford’s study proves otherwise?