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Organic food adds no vitamins for extra cost, research finds

By Bloomberg News


Consumers shouldn’t pay more for organic food because of what it adds to their diets, research suggests. The only gain may come from what it doesn’t add.

Organic foods that account for $27 billion in U.S. grocery sales offer no more vitamins and nutrients than conventional products, according to a review of 240 studies done at Stanford University in California. The research, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, did find lower levels of pesticides in produce and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in meat.

U.S. sales of organic food rose sevenfold over a dozen years to $26.7 billion in 2010, according to the Organic Trade Association, based in Brattleboro, Vermont. While the reports studied didn’t address specific health consequences for illnesses such as heart disease or cancer, they offered little evidence there would be any, the researchers wrote.

“There wasn’t any strong evidence to support the idea that organic foods are significantly healthier,” said Crystal Smith- Spangler, the study’s lead author, in a telephone interview.

Organic foods typically are grown without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or genetically modified organisms; animals aren’t given antibiotics. While the studies found food produced in that manner to be 30 percent less likely to contain trace levels of pesticides, they noted that it was uncommon for any food in the U.S. to have unsafe levels.

Laura Batcha, executive vice president of the industry trade group, said the benefits found by the study supports the value of organic food.

’Reducing Exposure’

“This study confirms that choosing organic foods reduces consumers’ exposure to pesticide residues, and that the overuse of antibiotics in non-organic production leads to higher level of bacteria resistant to antibiotics in meat,” Batcha said in an e-mailed response to questions. “Studies have increasingly shown the importance of minimizing young children’s exposure to even low levels of chemical pesticides.”

Of the studies reviewed, 17 compared groups eating organic and non-organic foods and 223 compared the nutrients, bacteria, fungus and pesticides found in the foods.

The studies looked at a variety of products, including meat, eggs, milk and vegetables. None addressed the longer-term effects of organic foods.

There have been no large studies that followed consumers of organic and non-organic foods to assess whether they had better overall health, or lower rates of heart disease or cancer, Smith-Spangler said.

The only nutrient that researchers found to be significantly higher in organic compared to non-organic foods was phosphorus, of which very few people have a deficiency, Smith-Spangler said.

The researchers received no outside funding to do the analysis, according to the journal report.

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false wrote:
And Vaccines, Floride, and Chemtrails are good for you.
on September 4,2012 | 12:53PM
1local wrote:
Organic foods are for the rich - No matter what precautions one takes they will be exposed to impurities in one form or another whether it be from the air, water, or food. When the crops start failing and food shortages become a reality - let's see who eats organic...
on September 4,2012 | 02:21PM
dontbelieveinmyths wrote:
You betcha. Some of us posting here wouldn't be alive, or would be crippled, were it not for vaccines.
on September 4,2012 | 03:58PM
gypsy wrote:
article title is misleading...how about "organic foods found lower in pesticides and antibiotic-resistant bacteria"
on September 4,2012 | 01:43PM
Publicbraddah wrote:
Boy, SA writers gotta get it right. Everyone knows organic foods doesn't add anything vitamin wise. But it is grown without artificial fertilizers or insecticides. It's safer to eat.
on September 4,2012 | 02:18PM
dontbelieveinmyths wrote:
is it safer? How about salmonella? E coli? I don't think organics take care of those. The only thing organics do, is give peace of mind to the paranoid.
on September 4,2012 | 03:56PM
st1d wrote:
don't forget the rat lungworm disease
on September 4,2012 | 10:36PM
bigislandkurt wrote:
Folks who purchase organic know that they can get the same vitamin content by eating non-organic. But it was never about vitamins. It's about not eating (or feeding your kids) produce that has been sprayed by pesticides.
on September 4,2012 | 02:25PM
Ronin006 wrote:
How do you protect yourself from the dirty hands of agricultural workers?
on September 4,2012 | 06:49PM
st1d wrote:
weren't the last cases of rat lung disease in organic vegetables?
on September 4,2012 | 02:31PM
Motherof9 wrote:
Yup. And the e coli in the spinach in Germany before that. Organics should be raised, bought and consumed by people who want to go the organic route. If others want to raise, purchase and consume food products produced outside of strict organic guidelines, they should be free to do so. Just spare all of us the bickering about which is better, and especially skip the holier-than-thou preaching and screeching about how government is lying and the petro-chemical industrial complex is orchestrating everything just so they can dictate the price of seeds in Africa. That's just crazy talk.
on September 4,2012 | 04:17PM
st1d wrote:
my mistake: it's rat lungworm disease.

last november 2011, Eric Reinert, visiting an organic farm in puna contracted the disease and is undergoing a long rehab learning to move and walk.

on September 4,2012 | 02:37PM
st1d wrote:
rat lungworm disease
on September 4,2012 | 02:38PM
niimi wrote:
During WWII 40% of U.S. households grew victory gardens. Fewer than 1% today grow anything, much less know how to do so. A whole generation of Americans learned to open cans. The following generation learned to shop a Supermarkets. The one following learned to shop at a warehouse club. Whereas there were tens of thousands of varieties of seeds a hundred years ago, a time where generational family farms grew unique varieties, now barely a hundred varieties of all seeds in existence are our offering. And most of those seems are "owned" by 3 or 4 multinational companies.
on September 4,2012 | 05:13PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Organic food is the biggest scam since bottled water.
on September 4,2012 | 06:46PM
aomohoa wrote:
Don't get me on the bottle water thing. Putting all that plastic into the dump. Most people aren't good at recycling. I have a reverse osmosis water filter and it produces much better water that water in a plastic bottle.
on September 4,2012 | 08:27PM
control wrote:
Organic is a waste of money. Learn basic food handling skills such as washing all fresh fruit and vegetables thoroughly before storing them away. That one simple step would have elimininated much of the e-coli outbreaks related to produce.
on September 4,2012 | 06:55PM
smoothryda wrote:
What's all the argument all about? Decide for yourself if you want any pesticides whatsoever in your fruits and vegetables and buy accordingly. Just give consumers the freedom of choice.
on September 4,2012 | 07:42PM
aomohoa wrote:
I am concerned about antibiotics and hormones in meat, etc. I also believe in humane treatment of animals and chickens being free range, BUT I can wash my veggies and fruit and I'm not worried. I am not paying more, especially for organic bananas and things with a thick skin. Give me a break.
on September 4,2012 | 08:24PM
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