TheBUZZ: Organic foods are better for you?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Organic fruits and vegetables are superior in nutrients and health benefits compared to traditionally farmed foods.
WHAT WE KNOW
The bottom line? The benefit of eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whether organic or conventionally grown, has been shown to have positive effects on obesity, heart disease, digestive health, certain types of cancer, and more. See Our Comprehensive Guide to the Health Benefits of Fruits & Vegetables
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
A 2009 analysis of 46 studies was conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The authors concluded that “there is no evidence of a difference in nutrient quality between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs.” The authors state, “a small number of differences in nutrient content exist between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs and that, whereas these differences in content are biologically plausible, they are unlikely to be of public health relevance.”¹
A more recent review of 12 relevant studies found that from a systematic review of the currently available published literature, evidence is lacking for nutrition-related health effects that result from the consumption of organically produced foodstuffs.²
The bottom line? The benefits of eating fruits and vegetables far outweigh any risks! For those worried about pesticide residues, check out this Residue Consumption Calculator to see just how many fruits and vegetables you would need to consume to even come close to reaching a pesticide residue level that might be harmful. In fact, a 2008 USDA report found that 98% of fruit and vegetable samples had no detectable residue levels at all!
Organic produce is more of a lifestyle choice. If their cost is limiting you from buying as much as you want or need, you can be comfortable in the safety of less expensive conventionally grown produce.
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, inadequate consumption among Americans is the much bigger concern. New experimental studies are emerging that demonstrate multiple effects of fruits and vegetables and their phytochemicals, suggesting that fruits and vegetables may have an even greater role to play in human health than the already positive results seen to date. (And this research is done primarily with conventionally grown fruits and veggies!)
Simply Remember …
- Wash, wash, wash! Washing all produce (conventional or organic) is important. Most fruits and veggies are grown under the open sky: on a tree, a bush, a vine, and on or in the ground. Many are still hand-picked. Washing can remove bacteria, dirt, and pesticides that are on produce. Rinse all fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins or rinds that are not eaten. (Packaged fruits and vegetables labeled ready to eat, washed or triple washed do not need to be washed.)
- Organic fruits and veggies are always an option.
Whether conventionally grown or organic, the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables are still indisputable.
¹ Dangour, Alan D, et al. “Nutritional Quality of Organic Foods: A Systemic Review.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2009), 90 (30), 680-85
² Dangour, A., K. Lock, A. Hayter, et al. “Nutrition-Related Health Effects of Organic Foods: A Systematic Review.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2010), 92, 203-10.