Is Organic Worth It?

If you view value as more good stuff (nutrient dense) without the bad stuff (pesticides, hormones & concerns about genetic modification) then organic is certainly worth it.  Marion Nestle explores other issues around the organic label in her book, What to Eat.  She addresses many questions and I thought a summary might be in order.

Does the Certified Organic seal really mean anything? Absolutely.  There are strict standards related to what can be called organic and there are stiff fines for violating the rules.  There is also incentive within the industry to police each other as the only thing the growers are selling is their credibility.  Finally, the attempts to weaken the rules at the political level are relentless, indicating that there really must be something to the whole organic thing.

Are organics better for my health? The studies on nutrient density can be quite confusing as they are written in scientific language and the abstracts that summarize the study can misrepresent the actual findings.  An important consideration when evaluating a study is to look at the financial sponsor of the study.  Nutritional science is complicated and that leaves a wide open opportunity for bias.  That being said, there was a study done through Doctor’s Data Lab in Wisconsin in 1993 that compared organic produce with conventionally grown produce using a “hot plate digestion” method rather than the typical dry ash method to compare the produce.  The results showed that the produce was anywhere from 90%-250% more nutrient dense in the desired minerals and the toxic metals of lead, cadmium, mercury and aluminum were lower in the organic produce.

It seems to make sense to me that even without the increased nutrient density, organics makes sense due to the absence of pesticides.  This is also a discussion not just about the food I am buying today, but the influence of these chemicals in the soil and water supply for future generations.

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