If you are one of many people who are willing to spend a bit extra on organic food to keep your family healthy, you will be surprised by the findings of the group of researchers from the Stanford University and the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System. In their new study they found that organic fruits, vegetables and meat do not contain more nutrients and vitamins than conventional food, but that the organic food is mostly free of pesticide residue and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
What does it mean ‘organic’?
According to the standards of the US United States Department of Agriculture, organic farms cannot use chemical pesticides and fertilizers, antibiotics and hormones. Animals grown for organic meat or milk must also spend some time in the pastures during grazing season. While people opt for organic food for many reasons, it is the fact that the organic food is free of agricultural chemicals that attracts most consumers.
Stanford scientists based their conclusions on the review of more than 200 studies, which compared the health of people who chose to eat organic food to those who opted for conventional foods. The studies differed greatly in their conclusions and many of them had very different definition of ‘organic’.
Pesticides and human health
There is a huge amount of research on the effects of pesticides and hormones on human health. The effects range from various cancers to non-cancer dermatologic, reproductive, neurological and genotoxic effects. This easily available information is the most important reason for most people’s decision to spend more money on organic food. Other common reason is the health of the environment. Many agricultural chemicals leach into the waterways and end up in our drinking water. Chemicals are also having very detrimental effects on the biodiversity. The use of hormones in livestock is contributing to the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
What Stanford University researchers did not contemplate is the fact that very few people buy organic food because it might have more vitamin C or phosphorus. By the way, studies disagree on that too. If it does, great. If it does not, eating plant based meals is already enough to boost general health. Vitamins and minerals are there, a little more or little less, but preferably without any chemical additives. Another fact the researchers did not explore is the incomparably better taste of organic food.