organic foods and nutrition

Organic IS Healthier…and Here’s Why

A new study on the nutritional value of organics didn’t crunch the right numbers.

Organic IS Healthier…and Here’s Why

Reach for organic: It's healtheir, hands down.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—A new analysis of previous research studies has found that organic food, and food produced using pesticides and other chemicals, are of comparable nutritional quality—implying that buying organic because it’s perceived to be healthier isn’t justified. The report is slated for publication in the September issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and is available now on the journal’s website. Critics contend that the study’s flaws invalidate its findings. The analysis was done by a research team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and funded by the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA), a government agency similar in some ways to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

THE DETAILS: The researchers analyzed 162 studies that compared the density of 11 nutrients in organic and chemically grown produce, and two nutrients in dairy and meat products. They found no difference between organic and chemical methods in the nutritional value of meat and dairy products, but they found that chemically farmed produce had higher levels of nitrogen, while organic produce had higher levels of phosphorous and titratable acidity (which relates to flavor). In all other respects, the two types of produce were found to be no different in their content of vitamin C, phenolic compounds, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc, total soluble solids (the level of sugars found in the produce), and copper.


Published on: July 30, 2009

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synthetic fertilizers

African farmers remove 28kg/hectare of nitrogen annually in their harvests. They apply 7 kg/hectare annually. Are they good stewards of the land because they do not use synthetic fertilizers?

Re: Seems Biased

Great post. However, I have to agree with Peter about #9. Organic does not guarantee that the animals are treated humanely or get to eat grass. Sad as it is, the "access" part of the standard is basically meaningless.

The industrial organic farming that we see today is better, but is not the pastoral ideal we would like to think it is.

Re: Tony


I have a complete understanding of the USDA definition of organic - the company I work for produces a number of organic products and I am involved in the organic certification/registration process for most of these products.

As far as fertilizers go, the definition excludes synthetic fertilizers. There are hundreds, if not thousands of certified organic fertilizers on the market, many of which enter our drinking water due to over-application, incorrect application, acts of God, etc. As we found out in the last year in California, many of the organic fertilizer producers cheated, causing organic growers to inadvertently contribute to the pollution of drinking water.

My biggest problem with Rodale's writing on these articles is the absolute statements (organic farmers don't pollute drinking water) and implications (all conventional farmers contaminate drinking water). From reading the article, an ignorant outsider could surmise the following:

1. Conventional farms pollute drinking water with pesticides and fertilizers.
2. Conventional farms use GMOs.
3. Conventional farms use sewage sludge that may contain very harmful materials.
4. Conventional farmers abuse and over-medicate their animals.

There is a large contingent of farmers who are not certified organic and are much better stewards of the land. With all the Monsanto/Mosaic/ConAgra/etc money in DC, the organic standards are likely to deteriorate even further - anyone else hear of Monsanto's push to get Round-Up approved for organic use?

Who cares?

There seems to be growing need of North Americans to convert all who eat, pray, drink, smoke, vote differently than themselves to their way of eating, drinking, smoking, voting, praying etc. What the hell is with that? If you don't like organic farming and organic veggies, pass by my stand at the farmers market and buy you some BT crossbred corn. I could care less. But what compels you to read any Rodale newsletters and criticize and endeavor to convert others to your point of view?

Re: Losing Credibility


The principal reason why organic famrers don't have fertilizers entering the drinking water is because organic farmers don't use chemical fertilizer, they use compost, crop rotation and other techniques. That's kind of the whole point of organic.

Here's the USDA definition: "100% Organic": Can only contain organic ingredients, meaning no antibiotics, hormones, genetic engineering, radiation or synthetic pesticides or fertilizers can be used.

So, it's less a matter of Rodale writing with less hysteria than you misunderstanding what organic means.

I totally agree

Organic food is so much healthier, not because of organics foods nutritional profile in comparison with non organic foods, but mainly because of the low levels of pesticide and herbicide residue.

I for one do not want my children/grandchildren having any sort of contact with pesticides and herbicides being indgested into them, as I, being in my late 70's, never had to face that problem growing up because food back then wasnt always mass produced and tampered with.

Again, no study has been done regarding the dangers of pesticide and herbicide residue, so nobody really knows the ill effects. All I know is, when a friend of mine brought some pesticide to use, I looked at the packaging, and a thorough warning is in place about the toxicity of the product being indgested. I think that pretty much explains everything to me.

Losing Credibility

Your arguments would be much more well-founded if you would quit kicking the global warming dead horse - there are two sides to the argument with no conclusive evidence that either side is correct. The leftist nutjobs will scream at this "LOOK AT THE EVIDENCE!!!" while the righty wackos scream "YES, LOOK AT THE EVIDENCE!!"

Also, your writing implies that:
a. Conventional farmers abuse their animals
b. Conventional farmers all use sewage sludge
c. Conventional farmers all use unnecessary antibiotics

You fail to mention why organic fertilizers don't enter drinking water. Technically speaking, a true organic farmer will fertilize in such a manner as to reduce the possibility of fertilizer entering the drinking water, but there are reckless organic farmers who irresponsibly over-fertilize in the quest for supposedly higher yields and the almighty dollar.

In large measure, the folks at Rodale need to take off the green-tinted glasses and write with less hysteria.

Seems biased...

I am no farm/organic/GMO expert, but I am trying to correct that. However, this article doesn't appear to be objective...while this article talks in terms of scientific evidence, some of the items appear to come from unsubstantiated bias.

#4. Organic farms keep pesticides and fertilizers out of your drinking water.

Are you saying organic farmers don't use fertilizers? I find that hard to believe.

#9. Organic meat and dairy products come from animals that were treated humanely...

What about organic farming *guarantees* animals are treated humanely?


Thanks, it was a typo; we've listed 10 reasons. Though there are many more!

#11 and #12?

The last two reasons to buy organic were cut off.

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