Is organic food really better?
By Elizabeth Meryment
From: The Sunday Telegraph
May 02, 2010 12:12AM
SO you buy organic over conventional produce? I set out to investigate and uncovered some surprising facts.
A couple of years ago I was making a quiche when a weird thing happened. I was cracking egg after egg into a bowl when I noticed these were not ordinary eggs. I took a second look at the packet and saw that I’d accidentally bought the biodynamic, organic, free-range eggs that cost top dollar at my greengrocer.
The amazing thing was the eggs had such rich, golden yolks that the quiche wasn’t its usual yellow colour but a bright pumpkin-orange. And the finished dish tasted incredible. Even my three-year-old noticed the difference. “Look, Mummy, it’s orange!” she cried when I offered her a slice.I try to buy these organic eggs every time I shop, but the price is usually prohibitive. Yet whenever I’m cooking with eggs I can’t help but wonder about the benefit of organic over non-organic food.
While some in the health industry claim that organic food has properties that give it an almost healing quality, is this actually true? And if so, should we feel guilty whenever we select a conventionally grown apple or carrot over the more expensive organic option?
Speak to advocates of organic farming and they will tell you that yes, their produce is almost always better than that which is produced conventionally – that is, using pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers.
“There are some very good studies that show that on balance organic food has higher levels of nutrition,” says Andre Leu, chair of the Organic Federation of Australia. “The data we have from Australia and around the world tends to be consistent. The number one reason people buy organic is for health reasons and concern about the use of pesticides.
Associate Professor Samir Samman, from the School of Molecular Bioscience at the University of Sydney, says there is little evidence to suggest that organic food is nutritionally better than conventional food, especially in relation to fresh fruit and vegetables.
In a yet-to-be released major study that has been accepted for publication in the international scientific journal Critical Reviews In Food Science And Nutrition, Professor Samman and his team “surveyed the international literature and critically evaluated the results” – and they aren’t heartening for the organics industry.
“Our review showed [that] when all the published articles on this topic are considered, organic food is reported to contain more vitamin C and phosphorous than conventionally produced food,” Professor Samman says. “[But] when the articles are scrutinised for scientific quality, and only the better-quality articles are considered, only phosphorous remained significantly higher in organic food as compared with conventional foods."
"Phosphorous is not in any way a limiting nutrient in the diet. The presence of higher amounts in organic food has probably little significance. We conclude from the analysis that the nutrient composition differs very little between foods that are produced by organic and conventional methods." Read More
Throwing wild accusations around about the food some family farmers and ranchers produce helps no one. For me personally, I never trust anyone whose main marketing plan to sell something is to degrade the competition. I think if you have a good product to sell it’s not necessary. In food production, the choices we can provide to the consumer are almost hard to believe. It’s a fantastic accomplishment that needs to be celebrated. Instead we have some farmers and ranchers who feel the need to destroy the family down the road that uses a different production method. There is no perfect system, all of them have positives and negatives associated with them.