Do you think there is a significant difference between eating organic food vs. conventional food? This is a very important question to consider with serious individual and societal implications. Just in case you want a second opinion, here it is.
In a recent article in the journal of Annals of Internal Medicine (September 4, 2012) http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1355685 the authors looked at the some of the differences between organic and conventional foods (in a meta-analysis of 240 previously written journal articles) and came to the following conclusion. “The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods. Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”
The mainstream press however came out with headlines like this one from the New York Times: “Stanford Scientists Cast Doubt on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce” (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/04/science/earth/study-questions-advantages-of-organic-meat-and-produce.html) and from the BBC: “Organic food not any healthier.” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19465692). Let’s go beyond the headlines and examine exactly what organic food is and how it differs from so-called conventional food.
- grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, fertilizers, antibiotics and hormones.
- does not contain genetically modified organisms.
- has not been irradiated.
- does not contain artificial flavors, colors or additives.
- grown by farmers who use compost and manure to fertilize.
- grown on crop rotated land.
- grown with beneficial bugs and traps to reduce pests and disease.
- grown without damaging the environment and polluting soil and water.
What we notice is that organic food does not contain the chemical and pesticide load that is in conventional food. This means quite simply that when you eat an organic food, you are not giving your body additional toxins and chemicals to deal with and over time, there can be little doubt that your toxic load is less burdensome. This in the soup of chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis as each year roughly 2000 new chemicals are artificially synthesized in our world and almost every one of them is not tested for long term safety before it is introduced.
Remember that toxins and chemicals have been proven over and over again to be harmful, carcinogenic and health hazards period. They affect our unborn children, they cause disease, they damage our hormonal pathways and, in short, they make us sick. Even the good Stanford doctors will give us that.
Then let’s look at nutrients which the Stanford doctors seem to think is similar in organic and conventional food. To begin with, of the 240 studies they looked at, only 3 of them looked at clinical outcomes in humans. Another shortcoming, of which they speak little, is that these studies are not long-term investigations into nutritional outcomes.
Added to this is that it may be one thing saying vitamin C or magnesium levels are similar in both groups but what about the various nutrients, enzymes and bacteria we don’t even know about yet? What about the proportions of nutrients that food grown in healthy soil contains? What about long-term nutritional effects genetically modified crops have never been show not to cause? What about the widespread irradiation of our food sources in order to keep food “fresh” longer?
YES, irradiation and processing of our food comes at a cost. Have you noticed the explosion of chronic diseases in the last fifty years which coincides perfectly with the consumption of processed foods in our society? Conventional food can and does have a nasty bite. The damage is sometimes obvious (cancer, birth defects etc.) and sometimes less so (allergies, bowel problems, chronic diseases and cancer).
Now add to this the pollution of our soils and the damage to our environment. The picture is not pretty and for any organization to come out with a study of this nature begs questions. Why now and who is behind this?
For those of you who live in California, the answer seems clear. In the upcoming November elections Prop 37 asks for all genetically modified (GM) foods to be labeled as such. The food industry has been spending millions of dollars to convince Californians to let them off the hook. A “YES” vote will mean some significant costs to these big purveyors of GM foods.
It is also clear that the world’s largest GM food company (Monsanto) is a major sponsor of Stanford University (although they didn’t directly sponsor this particular study) and no doubt has more than a keen interest and significant influence on what research is done.
Hopefully, I’ve given you a bit more non-GM food for thought but I want to leave you with 2 more ideas.
- Wouldn’t it be refreshing for the Stanford School of Medicine to come out with a study on the long-term effects of pesticides on our health?
- How about a study on the long-term effects of genetically modified foods on our various metabolic pathways?
Go on Stanford doctors, we dare you!
One very last thing. California is the fruit and vegetable basket of the U.S. and has a huge influence on what goes on in the rest of the country. So…
*** VOTE YES on PROP 37. ***
*** Organically Minding your Body; Embodying your Pesticide-free Mind ***