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Q:
Aren't organic foods healthier for you? Or aren't they because they can have more bugs and fungus present?
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A:Expert Answer

Although this question does not concern growing genetically modified crops, the health benefits of organically versus conventionally grown food is debated in both the popular press and scientific literature.  To date, there is no consistent evidence supporting the notion that organic foods are healthier than those derived from conventional cultivation methods.  Multiple studies for various food groups (i.e. cereals, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, nuts and oils, breads, and milk and dairy) concluded that there are no clear differences in nutrition state between foods derived from organic or conventional cultivation methods (In The Truth About Organic Foods, by Avery, 2006).  Furthermore, in a systematic review of 12 published studies comparing health outcomes resulting from consumption of or exposure to organic versus conventionally-produced foodstuffs, Dangour et al. (2010) concluded that evidence for nutrition-related health effects due to consumption of organic foods is lacking.  This conclusion is supported by a systematic review of the literature conducted by researchers at Stanford University which found little difference in health benefits between organically and conventionally grown foods (Smith-Spangler et al., 2012).  Taken together, the available data do not suggest that there are health benefits to be gained by maintaining organically-derived diets.  Eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis is critical to maintaining good health regardless of whether a product is grown using organic or conventional practices.

 

References:

  • Avery, A.  (2006).  The Truth About Organic Foods.  Henderson Communications L.L.C., 1st ed.  231 p.
  • Dangour, A.D., Lock, K., Hayter, A., Aikenhead, A., Allen, E., Uauy, R. (2010).  Nutrition-related health effects of organic foods: a systematic review.  Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 92:203-210.
  • Smith-Spangler, C., Brandeau, M.L., Hunter, G.E., Bavinger, J.C., Pearson, M., Eschbach, P.J., Sundaram, V., Liu, H., Schirmer, P., Stave, C., Olkin, I. Bravata, D.M. (2012).   Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?  Ann. Intern. Med. 157:348-366.
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