Organic Food No Better Than Conventional Food

Discussion in 'Organic Gardening' started by Millet, Jul 31, 2009.

  1. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    This was reported last night (7-30-09) on FOX Nightly News at 9:00PM, and then again I seen it reported on NBC Nightly News (Channel 7) at 10:00 PM. Today I also found it on the Internet. The report came from the prestigious American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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    Organic Food "No Better Than Conventional," Study Finds
    Thursday, Jul. 30 2009 @ 10:53AMBy Lesley McCave in News

    ‚ÄčAs reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition yesterday, the British-commissioned survey, which took its findings from 55 studies made in the past 50 years, claims that eating organic food "will make no important difference to a person's overall health".

    According to Alan Dangour, one of the report's authors, "A small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs, but these are unlikely to be of any public health relevance."


    "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."

    The findings are bound to cause controversy, and perhaps damage to organic farming communities, which are already struggling in the recession, as consumers turn to cheaper alternatives to feed their families. Sales of organic produce reached nearly $25 billion last year in the US alone, and while the numbers had been booming over the last decade or so, some producers have seen the growth taper off.

    Those who can afford to buy organic may well continue to do so, but for those who are on the fence, this study may have made their decision for them.

    While the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) didn't return my calls, Whole Foods did send me their official statement in response to the findings, and, no surprise, opine that the study fell short in some ways, saying:

    "Our shoppers choose organic food for many reasons--to avoid synthetic pesticide residue, because it is often fresher and better tasting, and because organic farmers grow in earth-friendly ways that support the environment. Nutritional quality is one of many potential variables related to the advantages of organic food, but for us, there are already plenty of well-documented reasons to choose organic.

    The authors of this study examine the abstracts of 50 years of nutritional studies, looking for differences in nutrition between organic and non-organic foods, and conclude that there aren't any major differences. They don't rule out the possibility that there could be nutritional advantages, but acknowledge that none has been demonstrated so far. This isn't a surprising finding, since until very recently, there has been very little governmental or non-profit support of academic nutrition research focused directly on organic agriculture. In general, most nutrition research has not differentiated between organic and conventional crops.

    We are optimistic that improved support of organic nutrition research--including the increase of organic research funding in the 2008 Farm Bill, and the work of organizations like The Organic Center--will show that nutritional advantages are another reason that organic agriculture is better than conventional."

    That's largely where I stand too: I will still buy organic where possible (in particular milk and certain fruit and veg; CLICK HERE for the list of suggested must-buys). Even if it doesn't make much difference to my health in the long run--which, by the way, I find hard to believe--it sure as hell tastes better and is easier on the environment. And do I really want to be ingesting all those hideous chemicals anyway?
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2009
  2. Buddleia

    Buddleia Active Member

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    I had heard about this article too, I have to wonder how much big business had in this "survey".
    Perhaps the growing trend to see more of it readily available is making traditional food producers scared. I notice commercial farms have regular and organic produce so it really makes me question how organic their product really is. For that reason I do not buy organic food at the grocery store but what I grow at home is organic. Whole Foods is correct in their statement and it's good for consumers to have a choice.
     
  3. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Buddeia, I think you are grasping for straws. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is a very respected Journal. However, you certainly are free to chose what you hope to believe in. - Millet (1,264-)
     
  4. JanR

    JanR Active Member

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    Keep in mind that the study was only comparing nutrition. It was not comparing taste or the amount of pesticides and chemicals on the produce.
     
  5. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Or, most importantly, environmental impact. There's plenty of scientific studies that have shown that organic farms have much healthier wildlife populations. If you want to see birds in the countryside, buy organic.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Another wrinkle is that agribusiness has gotten the organic certification watered down, so that "organic" food is not what it used to be.
     
  7. bob 2

    bob 2 Active Member

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    There are several different reports out there that suggest that all pesticides are harmful when applied indifferently.
    I think legitimate science directed at a more "organic" style of farming gets a bad wrap from all the junk scientists trying to either cash in with hokus pokus or make a name for themselves.

    http://www.cgfi.org/2001/06/02/the-deadly-chemicals-in-organic-food/

    Bob
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2009
  8. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Michael F, what studies are you referring to that quantifies that organic gardens equates to much healthier wildlife? I would be interested to read such studies. Without taking the time to look up the figure, my guess is that organic gardening and organic farming are less then 1 percent of world agriculture. - Millet (1,264-)
     
  9. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    This whole 'organic' thing has gotten way out of hand - next we'll all be eating organic french fries and thinking they're good for us!

    : O

    I don't really believe half the stuff labelled 'organic' really is - it's a trendy buzz word that makes people think they're getting something extra special and nutricious. I am hearing lately that a number of companies are labelling their products as organic simple because there is one organic ingredient in it!!!

    I agree that truly organic food is so much better tasting, than the chalk they try to pass for produce at the grocery store. I do try to buy it when it really is authentic, and I certainly practice natural methods at home as well.

    I could see Michael F's point about healthier wildlife. I would think animals munching on pesticide sprayed leaves wouldn't be too healthy!

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 23, 2009
  10. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    It would be worth while if every one would try to keep this discussion close to factual, and not way over exaggerate. Store food certainly does not taste like chalk, I would bet money, that if the store secretly replaced the organic fruit with conventional fruit on the organic shelves of the store, then placed a sign that said organic, no one would be able to taste the difference. - Millet (1,264-)
     
  11. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    You have no right to try to sensor what I say, nor how I say it. Freedom of speech. You are not an expert on the 'facts'.

    If you tasted some of the 'produce' in my neck of the woods, you would hardly think it exaggerated to refer to it as bland, tasteless, chalk.

     
  12. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member

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  13. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member

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    Millet i can assure you I for one would taste the difference. Been around too long to know what the real stuff tastes like. Tomato as an eg. There is no comparison. Store bought is definatly chalk. This is from an unscientific observation and personal experience.

    Liz
     
  14. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Liz I must agree with you on the taste of tomatoes, you certainly are correct. Fresh garden grown tomatoes are much taster than tomatoes sold in the store. The main reason for the difference in taste is, however, due to the fact that the tomatoes sold in the supermarket must be picked while still partly immature, and still quite firm, so that they can be shipped, a fully ripe tomato is much to delicate to survive shipping. Garden tomatoes, organic or not, remain on the vine until fully ripe, thus develop a lot more sugars. It has not much to due to the method of growing. Normally, during the winter, I purchase greenhouse grown tomatoes, which are much taster than the tomatoes shipped from Mexico, that are also sold at the supermarket. Anyway, this will be my last post on this subject, as this is that type of subject, that is too clouded with pre-determined personal prejudices to ever come to a legitimate consensus. Like the old saying, "Don't confuse me with the facts". Each to their own, I believe the journal's findings. Have a good day. - Millet (1,263-)
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2009
  15. bob 2

    bob 2 Active Member

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    Surely a simple double blind test could settle the taste issue once and for all.
    I keep hearing this "I can tell the difference" thing and would be more than happy to put that to a test.
    It is the kind of thing each of us could do at home and perhaps report the findings back.


    Bob
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2009
  16. Buddleia

    Buddleia Active Member

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    I suppose strawberries are like tomatoes. I refuse to buy grocery store strawberries because they are tasteless. The ones shipped from California, I used to think they had no taste because of the transit but that is not the case. I was in California and purchased some from a road side stand and they didn't have any flavour either.
    A few weeks ago I saw some organic strawberries from California from Driscoll Farms and since we had such a poor crop this year I decided to try them. They had some flavour but not like our local strawberries. Just last week I saw non organic strawberries in Driscoll Farm packaging and it made me wonder just how organic the first batch were.
    Anyway, I think most people buy and eat organic because of the pesticide free aspect. There are other reasons but most people that I know personally are most concerned with limiting the chemicals they ingest. I'm sorry I can't buy 2-4-D any more though.
     
  17. Naturegirl

    Naturegirl Active Member

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    Check out the book "Silence of the Songbirds" by Bridget Stutchbury

    She recommends we buy organic - especially North American alfalfa, brussels sprouts, blueberries, celery, corn, cotton, blueberries, cranberries,potatoes and wheat. From Latin America - bananas and pineapples.
     
  18. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    For me, there is nothing to settle, but for those who don't believe it, by all means, conduct your tests and experience it for yourself.

    People should just be allowed to share what they think, even if others do not agree - after all, this is a public forum. It's only a discussion, and other people's comments and views should be respected and counted also. I do not argue with people's experiences or opinions, even if they are different from my own.

    Thank you NatureGirl, for the author and book title.

    Also, I hear ya Buddleia, about the strawberries - the ones in the store look like strawberries, but when you bite into them, they have that old familiar chalk taste - no flavor! Yuck.

    Produce that is pesticide free is obviously better yes, and maybe that's part of the reason for the better flavor as well, because the taste is not distorted with all those chemicals. Even when you think you've washed it off, a lot of residue still stays behind.

    : (
     
  19. bob 2

    bob 2 Active Member

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    There are beginings of thread drift now.
    I am going to sign off this one.

    Bob
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2009
  20. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    Oh thank goodness!

    : )

    P.S. Sure hope to hear back from you when the results of your experiment are in, Bob - since you came up with such a great idea.

    As well...

    arguing and disrespecting others is what truly derails a thread.

    : (

     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2009
  21. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Organic growers often plant different cultivars, with different flavors and textures than those chosen by big ag for long-distance shipping. Some of this produce tastes better because it is gathered from different kinds and not because it was organically grown.
     
  22. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    What is indisputable, I think, and this whole topic should be treated with respect since it is an important one, is that pesticides can leave residues on plants or even penetrate them in some way, and various hormones and antibacterial additives to cattle and poultry and pigs enter the meat food system and are available to humans, who don't need extra growth hormone [getting too big, diabetes is overly prevalent and they say something is happening to male fertility] or extra antibiotics [our own antibiotics then lose their power over infections] -- what a lot of these studies are referring to is actually genetically-modified rice and other grains, which don't create poisons but which create more productive crops for urgent needs in Third World countries -- there is a dreadful lack of biological knowledge in the general public -- I hope the high schools these days are teaching all of this stuff so future generations will know the facts.
     
  23. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    Thank you for your information, JanetDoyle. Totally agree.

    : )
     
  24. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    GMO crops may be engineered to tolerate pesticide applications, prime example RoundUp Ready soybean. Entire crop can be sprayed non-selectively with RoundUp, without the soybean plants being damaged. But do the beans end up with chemical residues in them? RoundUp is one of those pesticides that when sampled has sometimes had active ingredients in it that were not supposed to be there.

    Key term: dumping.
     
  25. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    Yes, Ron, that is true -- some of the genetically-modified crops are engineered that way. That is why the organic movement is so strong at the moment, the urge to avoid the contaminants is very strong among the public at large. Taste is not the issue so much as safety, I think. But a lot of people do get confused between genetically-modified [which could mean many degrees of "modifications"] and regular crops on the one hand, versus "organic" on the other -- the whole picture requires a lot of study before making conclusions, but it sounds as if "organic" is the safer way to eat. Sorry to hear about Round-Up -- I had heard it was generally not so much of a problem to humans. There is no foolproof easy way to do anything, whether it be farming, whatever.
     

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