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Studies Find That Organic Doesn't Mean "Healthier"

Blake Branen Rosencrantz - Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Our farm has always been a firm advocate of the idea “organic doesn’t always mean healthy.”  Sure, organic produce and livestock is a multi-billion dollar industry that is still growing, but the reason behind that is more of a band-wagon effect then anything else. Simply put, people assume because the product is labeled organic that it is helping them stay healthy. Recent research now shows that the “healthy” side of organic may be all fuzz. A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found scant evidence of health benefits from organic foods.  The review found that, overall, organic produce is 30 percent less likely to contain detectable pesticides, compared to conventional produce, but the vast majority of all produce tested fell below government safety tolerances. The study did look at one case which found that children who switched to an organic diet for five days had lower levels of pesticides in their urine, but whether the levels have a direct impact on human health is "unclear." When it came to bacterial contamination and produce, the reviewers found that there was not a statistically significant difference in the rate of E. coli contamination -- 7 percent for organic, 6 percent for conventional -- but the review noted that only five of the studies they reviewed directly compared this type of contamination. When the authors removed one study that looked only at lettuce, the meta-analysis showed that organic produce had a 5 percent greater risk for contamination. This study did not surprise us here at Owyhee Produce. We have had many conversations with our community about the negative impacts of organic onions, compared to how we grow them, using a common sense approach. The average field on our farm yields about 100,000 pounds per acre while an organic farmer is, at best, going to see half those yields.  That means every input they use, such as diesel, labor, fertilizer, drip line, plastic mulch, and pesticides have at least twice the environmental cost. And yes, organic farmers do use pesticides. That is why you pay more for organically grown produce by the way. So your organically grown onion may actually be worse for you and the environment when you take everything into account. The moral of this story is, that we as consumers need to stop blindly buying produce just because the label promotes it as “healthier” Our advice? Take a trip to the store where you buy your produce and try and find out what farms different produce comes from. For example, on bags on onions the label will contain the farm name. Then, head online and go visit the farms website and Facebook. You can tell a lot about a farm and their practices from the information you can find online. We want to know your thoughts, do you believe that organic produce is healthier for you? If so, why? What are your concerns or thoughts on the “organic trend” in our society? Sources: Image source via:
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