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Organics nutrition advantage not supported by the facts

I must admit to being a bit surprised when I came across an article on the Internet recently with the headline: “Organic food is no healthier, study finds.”

I was not surprised at the finding; I’ve suspected that for quite some time. I was surprised to see it in popular print.

I don’t object to anyone growing, buying or eating organically grown food products. Farmers who have the resources and the skills, along with some good marketing savvy, to grow and sell organic fruits and vegetables have opportunities to earn good profits. And if the extra money consumers pay for most organic products seems worth the cost, then it’s a good deal for them. You can’t put a price tag on peace of mind.

And if I had a piece of land near a metropolitan area I might consider setting up an organic farm to capitalize on the public’s demand for locally grown, organic produce. Of course my ability to grow anything more complex than a patio tomato would be a limiting factor.

But the article I read from a Reuters report indicated that folks who assume organic products are somehow more nutritious are mistaken. The article quoted a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The report came from a review of literature going back 50 years. Some minor differences in nutrient content were not considered relevant to public health.

Most of us who have been around farms and the ag industry for the past 20 or 30 years recall many instances of modern agriculture being vilified as producing food that’s unhealthy, lacking in nutrition and, at worst, unsafe to eat. And we recall the assertions that crops grown without pesticides were safer, healthier and more nutritious.

Now we know it’s not.

It has also been more expensive. I’ve personally seen fruits and vegetables in local groceries or at specialty organic stores that were less than attractive (pitted, discolored, etc.) with a price tag significantly higher than nearby products grown under traditional, commercial conditions.

I would not pay extra for organic products. I’ve never been convinced that pesticide-free offers a better product. I prefer that growers make reasonable efforts to rid my tomatoes of naturally occurring bacteria, bugs and blemishes.

Again, I would not deny anyone who wants to grow or consume organic products from having it available. If it offers a good profit for the grower, it’s a good deal. If it offers a consumer a bit of confidence, it’s a good deal for him, too.

Just don’t assume it’s better than conventionally grown.


TAGS: Management
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