Does It Matter If Organic Food Isn't Actually More Nutritious Than Conventional Products?

Clutch your kale close, organic food lovers — a new study says organic products aren’t any better for you nutrition-wise than conventional foods. The four-year project looked at 240 other studies covering nutrients in foods as well as potential contaminants like pesticides and found that even though we might pay more for our organic veggies, fruits and meat, they’re no better for us than regular food.

But then again, many consumers aren’t paying more just for the health benefits for themselves. Proponents of organic foods also tout the positive effects of sustainable farming have on the environment, notes USA Today.

It all started when two doctors were mulling over what they should tell their own families and patients in regards to choosing between organic and conventional in the grocery aisle.

“It became much larger than we expected,” said the lead author on the study, which was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Some of the most notable findings from the study include the fact that there wasn’t much of a difference between the vitamin content of A, C and E in organic fruits and veggies compared to conventional produce, and that while there was more detectable pesticide residue in conventional products compared to organic (38% to 7%), the amount was usually still below the maximum allowed limits in the European Union. Both kinds of produce were found to be susceptible to bacterial contamination.

Consumers pay a premium price for organic food, but the scientists warned that if you’re solely concerned about the health value of your products, there’s no reason to buy organic over conventional. And while many people do like organic products because of how they’re grown (or how the animals are raised and fed in the case of meat and dairy products), a Nielsen study says 76% of shoppers buy organic because they think it’s the healthier choice.

Urvashi Rangan, a scientist at Consumers Union the public advocacy arm of our elder siblings at Consumer Reports, told the paper that sustainable farming is key for many consumers.

“The health benefits really ended up being almost inadvertent, a nice fringe benefit” of farming in a sustainable way that benefits the planet, she says.

Organic food shoppers, we want to know…

Study sees no nutritional edge in organic food [USA Today]