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Little evidence of health benefits from organic foods, Stanford study finds - Stanford University School of Medicine


Stashed in: #health, Stanford, Nutrition!, Vegetables!, Fruit!, Things that shouldn't get eaten

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“There isn’t much difference between organic and conventional foods, if you’re an adult and making a decision based solely on your health,” said Dena Bravata, MD, MS, the senior author of a paper comparing the nutrition of organic and non-organic foods, published in the Sept. 4 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

Penn and Teller say the same thing.

Organic is about marketing, not about health.

Same thing for bottled water.

The study was really on the nutritional value of these foods: 

"After analyzing the data, the researchers found little significant difference in health benefits between organic and conventional foods. No consistent differences were seen in the vitamin content of organic products, and only one nutrient — phosphorus — was significantly higher in organic versus conventionally grown produce (and the researchers note that because few people have phosphorous deficiency, this has little clinical significance). There was also no difference in protein or fat content between organic and conventional milk, though evidence from a limited number of studies suggested that organic milk may contain significantly higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids."

However, there have also been studies that show plants that are grown on intensively farmed soils that have been monocropped and fertilized have lower levels of nutritional value: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=soil-depletion-and-nutrition-loss

"They studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century. Davis and his colleagues chalk up this declining nutritional content to the preponderance of agricultural practices designed to improve traits (size, growth rate, pest resistance) other than nutrition."

But perhaps this is breeding practices rather than herbicides and pesticides

cocktails

Yes organic foods are a great marketing opportunity to create differentiation, charge more, launch a pseudo organic very successful grocery store chain

However, my belief is this:

1. Herbicides and Pesticides are toxic to the Herbs and Pests they are designed to kill

2. The manufacturers do test each of these chemicals on various animals and ultimately humans (?)

3. On "conventional" foods, we humans will each ingest a unique cocktail of those herbicides and pesticides

4. I don't think that we know enough about the chemistry of the human body to say with any degree of certainty whether the cocktails will have any effect, long term implications to us or our offspring

5. Additionally, the ecosystem is complex and had a few hundred thousand if not million years to create a fine balance - and I don't think that we are smart enough to understand the full effects of upsetting that balance

6. However, given our uneven distribution systems and global economics - herbicides and pesticides have contributed to the wide availability of food on the planet

The study did also say this:

"The review yielded scant evidence that conventional foods posed greater health risks than organic products. While researchers found that organic produce had a 30 percent lower risk of pesticide contamination than conventional fruits and vegetables, organic foods are not necessarily 100 percent free of pesticides. What’s more, as the researchers noted, the pesticide levels of all foods generally fell within the allowable safety limits. Two studies of children consuming organic and conventional diets did find lower levels of pesticide residues in the urine of children on organic diets, though the significance of these findings on child health is unclear. Additionally, organic chicken and pork appeared to reduce exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but the clinical significance of this is also unclear."

#6 has me conflicted. And Dawn too. See below. 

This is an interesting debate. I went to my farmer to discuss the pest problems I was getting. She said, "Yeah, if you're already seeing that, you're too late." Like many other things in life, you have to be proactive. "We don't LIKE to spray, but if we didn't do something, nobody would eat. That's just the way it is." It's true--it's hard to be a purist. I was this year and lost a good percentage of what I grew on my first year out of the gate doing a real large operation.  That said, I can do the healthiest option possible when I do treat things next year. 

Organic is not an end all--sourcing is. I pretty much get most of what I eat at my local farms. It's a blessing. They're not organic farms, but I see the cows roaming the fields, communicate with the chickens, and know who's growing what. The organic designation costs a lot of money and there are things that can exclude a farmer--for example, being willing to treat sick cows with antibiotics.  I'd rather have a farmer who took care of sick cows rather than simply saying "We don't use antibiotics." Heck, without antibiotics, I'd be dead myself... But I don't want farmers who use things unnecessarily. By sourcing as well as possible, you increase the chance of getting good food. 

With produce, the fresher the better due to the breakdown process. If you get fresh, local produce, and don't cook the crap out of it, chances are you're doing something good for your body. So, I'm not sure that organic vs not organic is my personal argument. Knowing where I get my food, and eating as fresh and natural as possible is. 

Weren't there some darts thrown at that study--I recall reading it before. I'll have to research a bit. Either way, it's helpful for the dialog... And what's tough--Gammy's #6... there really aren't many options for most people... you get what's in the bodega or store. 

#6 has me conflicted too. I guess we should just try to eat the best we can but still try to be reasonable. 

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