It seems a Stanford review of nutritional studies says organic produce isn’t any more nutritious than *”conventionally”-farmed produce. Does that mean we should quit bothering about organic?
That depends on why we buy and/or grow organic. But let’s back up… should we take this survey at face value?
I’m not trying to hint at any problems with the Stanford study. It’s just that NO scientific study or survey should be taken as the last word on its topic. There’s always room for more study. The paper itself states a limitation: “Studies were heterogeneous and limited in number, and publication bias may be present.” It’s irresponsible of the media to proclaim this finding as fact.
Many of us have assumed that organic food would have to be more nutritious than the regular supermarket fare. That’s why this study is causing so much consternation.
I didn’t buy the full article, but I did read here that the studies examined levels of vitamins and minerals… implying that they did NOT look at micronutrients, which might be a different story.
They also looked at contaminants such as bacteria and pesticides, but “only 3 of the human studies examined clinical outcomes.” They found a clear difference in pesticide levels—which is the other major reason most of us choose organic. So at least we still have that.
But organic is more expensive. It can be a hassle. Is reducing our pesticide intake enough to justify it?
Well, I’ve got more reasons besides reducing my risk of cancer. Here goes…
- Flavor. Organic produce has more. My tomatoes don’t taste like cardboard.
- Sustainability. Let’s not forget that “conventional” farming uses fertilizers derived from petroleum products. They’re just going to get more and more expensive, until they can’t be gotten at all.
- Soil. This could fall under sustainability… organic methods preserve and nurture the soil. “Conventional” methods rape it until it’s good for nothing but to hold the plants up.
- Farm workers. There are horrific stories out there of the health effects of massive exposure to pesticide applications.
- Collateral damage. The trouble with pesticides is that they kill beneficial insects also, as well as birds. For instance, the latest evidence is pointing to the pesticide clothianidin as the culprit in colony collapse disorder in bees.
- Plant diversity. Organic practices preserve diverse varieties of crops.
It just makes sense to me that it’s best to grow plants in harmony with the biological systems God created for them. It’s short-sighted and overly utilitarian to look only at the vitamin content.
And this isn’t your grandma’s organic gardening. The more we know about the soil web, the more complex we find it to be. There is plenty of science on the organic side of things helping us understand what works and why.
It takes more than N/P/K, and the sooner we realize we’re not smarter than the Creator of it all, the better off we’ll be.
Another blog opinion: Gardener’s Journal
*(I put this in quotes because what is referred to as “conventional” farming has been going on for only a tiny fraction of the history of agriculture)