Green Eyes On: Recent Study Finds No Benefit to Organic Foods

green eyes on organic baby carrots

Photo courtesy Sara Snow.

A recent study out of the UK, commissioned by the British government's Food Standards Agency (FSA), is claiming there are no benefits to organic foods, local organizations are lashing out saying it's not true.

"Our review indicates that there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organically over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority," says Alan Dangour, one of the authors of a recent report out of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.The report is slated to be published later this summer in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. At the heart of the report is the claim that organic food has little to no nutritional or health benefits over conventional food.

But this report has many seeing red. Among those is Chuck Benbrook, chief scientist for The Organic Center, a US based non-profit geared toward generating peer-reviewed, scientific studies into organics, and communicating the benefits of organic farming and organically grown foods.

In a response authored by Dr. Benbrook, Preston Andrews (Washington State Univ.), and Dr. Donald Davis (Univ. of Texas), they state "the London team downplayed positive findings in favor of organic food. In several instances, their analysis showed that organic foods tend to be more nutrient dense than conventional foods. Plus, their study omitted measures of some important nutrients, including total antioxidant capacity."

Just last year a team of scientists assembled by The Organic Center (TOC) carried out a similar but, according to TOC team, more rigorous review of the same literature. That study can be found on TOC's website.

Findings by TOC were similar when it came to some of the nutrients analyzed by the FSA team, but differed significantly when it came to two critical classes of nutrients "of great importance in promoting human health — total polyphenols, and total antioxidant content."

According to TOC's study, "The average serving of organic plant-based food contains about 25% more of the nutrients encompassed in this study than a comparable-sized serving of the same food produced by conventional farming methods."

So, it's up to you who to believe. As for me, I still believe that organically grown foods and other products to be superior; better for me and better for the planet. For that reason, I'll continue to feed myself and anyone I care about organically grown foods and I'll continue to steer clear of chemically sprayed and genetically altered foods.

Of course, if you're on a budget there are two lists that will help you prioritize your purchases. This one from TOC and the now well-known Dirty Dozen list put out by the Environmental Working Group.