Author: Kelly Lehmann • Date: August 21, 2014 • Appears in:
The Truth About Organic Foods
A recent meta-analysis (1) of 343 peer reviewed publications should finally settle the debate on whether organic foods are healthier for you. The review found higher levels of antioxidants (such as phenolic acids, flavanones, stilbenes, flavones, flavonols and anthocyanins) in organically grown crops. These compounds have been linked to lower risk of chronic diseases. There were also lower levels of pesticide residues and the toxic heavy metal Cadmium.
To me, the debate has always seemed pointless. Research comparing conventional to organic is limited to say the least. Were scientists picking strawberries and studying them that day? Not likely! And produce grown by large scale farms and shipped across several countries is going to be losing nutrients whether it is conventionally grown or organically grown, so research that found no difference between the two farming methods holds little significance for me. Plus, we can’t ignore the environmental and social consequences of modern farming practices, and too often researchers don’t touch on it at all.
Even more importantly than organic or not, knowing where your food comes from and how it was produced is the best way to get high quality produce. In general, small scale farmers have to care about the environment and the quality of their soil or they’ll be out of business. Supporting a local farmer who produces food with sustainable farmer methods is good not only for the environment, but for your community too. And taste alone should convince you that a tomato picked this morning is superior to January’s imposters.
Of course, the bottom line is always to eat more vegetables and fruit. But knowing your farmer and supporting local, sustainable agriculture is better.
Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. Baranski M et al. British Journal of Nutrition 2014 June 26: 1-18. (Epub ahead of print)