Many wonder if buying at an organic market is worth the extra money. A recent study looking at organic food has confused many consumers. Here is some insight.
This particular study seemed to garner very high press coverage, and yet the much more important study that found medication used for mild hypertension (think billions of dollars in drugs) was ineffective remained mostly ignored.
By now, there have been many reviews and comments on this study, trying to criticize based on perceived biases, funding questions and poor data collection problems.
I think most everyone is missing some of the most important points.
We have known for years that organic nutrients do not have appreciably higher levels of vitamins or minerals. First, the facts:
- We know that shifting our intake to organic drops levels of POP (persistent organophosphate pollutants) in the blood.
- No one has brought up the concept of xenohormesis, which is a scary one, and has been addressed in prior posts that can be read here in article on grass fed vs grass finished beef)
- Finally, the phytonutrients that really make up the protective factors in food are going to be higher in organic produce.
This last factor is arguably one of the most important. The compounds that we label phytonutrients have been found again and again and again to protect us in every aspect of health and disease.
Think dark chocolate, tea, berries, nuts, coffee, artichokes, apples, etc… It’s the phytonutrients that do the work, not the simple things like magnesium or vitamin C.
These phytonutrients are in food, not for us, but to help them protect against the environment. It not like the blueberries all got together and decided to waste valuable resources to make anthocyanins so they can protect the humans.
These compounds are made selfishly by the plants to protect them from stressful situations (excess sunlight, pests, drought, etc..). Without stress, these plants have little incentive to produce these beneficial-to-us compounds.
Recent studies have found higher levels of lycopene in organic tomatoes, backing up this concept.
Overall, all this study does is confirm what we’ve already known–organic farming does not increase the levels of most vitamins and minerals. This does not, however, mean that there is no value to organic fruits and vegetables.
Personally, I stick with organic on the fruits and vegetables known to be higher in pesticide residues (the Dirty Dozen list can be found by clicking here). I let my buying decisions on other organic produce be driven by cost. If the organic for non-dirty-dozen organic produce is too expensive vs conventional, I buy the conventional. Overall, though, I try to by organic produce.
How do you approach buying organic produce vs conventional produce within your budget?