Organic Foods – Worth the Extra Green?

March 7, 2021

Written By: Christina Curry King MS,RD,CSSD,LD with Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute 

 

Organic vs non-organic foods is a heavily debated topic often leading to consumer confusion. Organic is often more costly than its non-organic counterpart, but is it truly healthier or safer to eat? Here are some thoughts on common myths when considering organic food products from Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute Sports Dietitian Christina Curry King MS,RD,CSSD,LD

 

Myth #1– Organic food is more nutritious

In 2012 researchers from Stanford University published a scientific review of over 200 independent studies, and concluded that there was no significant difference in nutrient content between organic and traditionally grown crops.

 

Myth #2– Organic farms don’t use pesticides

Certified organic farms are permitted to use approved “organic” pesticides, often in much larger amounts than the synthetic pesticides used in traditional farms. Many organic pesticides are found naturally in plants, but that doesn't mean they aren't harmful. Little testing has been done on the effects of organic pesticides, and they are often used in larger amounts than their synthetic counterparts. On the other hand, synthetic pesticides are rigorously tested, studied for their safety, and more effective in smaller doses.

 

Myth #3- GMO’s are harmful

A GMO is a “genetically modified organism.” They are typically plants whose genes have been modified to protect them against pests and drought, increasing the overall yield. Some may even add vitamins and minerals to improve the nutrient content. Americans have been consuming genetically modified (GM) foods for over 20 years. During which, copious amounts of research has been collected, and technology has become more precise in addition to stringent testing to ensure their safety.

 

Overall- Organic foods are not bad, but they are generally more expensive than non-organic, without any significant nutrient benefit. Conventional foods in comparison are both safe and cost effective.

 

References:

1. Wilcox, C. (2011, July 18). Mythbusting 101: Organic farming > conventional agriculture [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi/httpblogsscientificamericancomscience-sushi20110718mythbusting-101-organic-farming-conventional-agriculture/                                                                                                                                                                         

2. Smith-Spangler C, Brandeau ML, Hunter GE, Bavinger JC, Pearson M. Et al. Are organic foods safer or healthier than conventional alternatives?: a systematic review. Ann Intern Med. 2012: 157(5):348-66.