Friday, August 7, 2009

New Study Finds Organic Doesn’t Mean More Nutritious


Organic food, which was once only available in small stores or farmers’ markets, is now the fastest growing sector of the American food marketplace, despite its higher costs. In 2008, the value of retail sales of organic food was estimated to be more than $28 billion, up from $1 billion in 1990. And, according to the Food Marketing Institute, more than half of Americans now buy organic food at least one a month. So why this surge in popularity? Why pay more for food because it’s organically grown? Do organic foods offer more nutritional value than their traditionally grown counterparts?

Whether or not organically grown foods are more nutritious has become a hotbed of debate, and the answer would likely depend on who one asked. For instance, The Organic Center (TOC), a pro-organic nonprofit research organization in Foster, Rhode Island recently concluded that organic foods, on average, offer a 25 percent higher nutrient level over conventional ones. And researchers at University of California at Davis claim to have found higher levels of nutrients in organic tomatoes, kiwifruit, corn, and strawberries grown side-by-side with conventional versions.

On the opposite side of the fence are major health organizations like the American Dietetic Association and the Mayo Clinic that hold an organic label is no assurance that a food is nutritionally superior, which is the same conclusion recently reached by a group of British researchers after reviewing 50 years of published data on the topic. The review, commissioned by Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) and conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, found that organic food contained no more nutritional value than food grown traditionally.

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