Just because it says organic doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy. I think we are often swept away by this notion that if we fill our bodies with organic foods (regardless of what those foods are), we live just a bit better. But here’s the reality. There are no long term studies to date which prove that eating organic foods will help us live longer, healthier or stronger. I know it’s hard to believe, but yes, you read it right! In fact…
“Current evidence does not support any meaningful nutritional benefits or deficits from eating organic compared with conventionally grown foods, and there are no well-powered human studies that directly demonstrate health benefits or disease protection as a result of consuming an organic diet.” Pediatrics 2012*
“The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods.” Annals of Internal Medicine 2012*
“From a systematic review of the currently available published literature, evidence is lacking for nutrition-related health effects that result from the consumption of organically produced foodstuffs.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2010*
Now, there is some evidence to support that organic foods have less toxic residues on them and may have a higher nutrient content (like vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals) than their conventionally grown counterparts. However, it has never been demonstrated that eating those organic foods will greatly impact your health.
The operative word here is demonstrated. While there aren’t any scientific literature reviews which prove that eating organic foods will help you be healthier and live longer, it still stands to reason that going organic may be the right choice. Here’s why. Think about the logistics of a research project that would follow a large group of people through the course of their entire lives tracking exactly what they ate, what farm that food came from and the exact farming practices of that farm. In addition, that study would need to account for other lifestyle and environmental variables while consistently monitoring health status. I am hesitant to believe that we will see a quality study to this extent in our lifetime.
So when it comes to eating organic foods, my recommendation is not based on the latest scientific evidence. This is one of those times I am going to encourage you to ignore the studies and use common sense. If there are toxic chemicals on our foods and those chemicals are known to harm lab animals, it’s not worth the risk. Plus, if there is any chance (which there is) that nutrients are more bioavailable in organically grown foods, it’s worth the investment.
Okay, all that being said, whether conventionally grown or organically farmed, eat more fruits, vegetables and whole foods. There is a lot of evidence to support that eating minimally processed plant based whole foods can help you live longer and stronger. So, if you’ve got a choice between eating an organic cookie or conventionally grown broccoli (and you’re interested in getting the best nutrient bang for your calorie buck) choose the broccoli. If you’re deciding whether to get the organic or conventionally grown broccoli, I’d definitely suggest organic. Bottom line, eat more plant-based whole foods to look and feel your best!! Fight fat, disease and fatigue with your fork and knife.
1. Organic foods: health and environmental advantages and disadvantages. Forman J, Silverstein J; Committee on Nutrition; Council on Environmental Health; American Academy of Pediatrics. Pediatrics. 2012 Nov;130(5):e1406-15. doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-2579. Epub 2012 Oct 22
2. Are organic foods safer or healthier than conventional alternatives?: a systematic review. Smith-Spangler C, Brandeau ML, Hunter GE, Bavinger JC, Pearson M, Eschbach PJ, Sundaram V, Liu H, Schirmer P, Stave C, Olkin I, Bravata DM. Ann Intern Med. 2012 Sep 4;157(5):348-66.
3. Nutrition-related health effects of organic foods: a systematic review. Dangour AD, Lock K, Hayter A, Aikenhead A, Allen E, Uauy R.Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Jul;92(1):203-10. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2010.29269. Epub 2010 May 12. Review.