Organic Food Is Worth It!
In the quiet lull before Christmas, when out of office auto replies were flying and boxes of chocolate were unashamedly popped open before 11am, a new independent study about organic was published. It remained virtually unnoticed in the press, but it amounted to some fantastic news about organic - that organic farming practices can help develop food systems which are good for public health.
The research was an independent study for the European Parliament which looked at the impacts of organic food on human health. What’s especially interesting about this study is that determining the impact of anything (organic food or otherwise) on human health is notoriously tough, because of the difficulty in conducting the required controlled study. The report confirms what we already knew - that organic food is worth it!
A win for organic farming
The study brings together many scientific studies that look at the differences between organic and non-organic food and farming. An overwhelming win for organic farming, the research concludes that early studies have found a number of health benefits from organic food, including:
Reduced risk of allergies in children
Reduced likelihood of obesity in adults who ate organic food
Dietary patterns of people who eat organic are associated with health and environmental benefits, such as reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions
Reduced exposure to pesticides through food, which can reduce risk of negative effects to children’s cognitive development
Reduced exposure to heavy metals like cadmium, which collects in high concentrations in artificial fertilisers and non-organic soils
Higher omega-3 fatty acids in milk and meat, thanks to higher grass, clover and forage content of animals’ diet
Reduced risk of antibiotic resistance through organic farming practices, as organic animals are in some cases less likely to develop diseases related to intensive production
Improved in-vitro development in offspring when animals were given organic feed, although the significance of findings for human health is unclear
While the authors caution that these are early results, and point out that more research - in particular, more long-term studies - are needed to fully understand the evidence, the study has helped to unearth some of the differences between organic and non-organic food and farming systems.
The research also confirms something else we already know about organic food - that it's nutritionally different. For example, organic meat and dairy are higher in omega 3 fatty acids, as well as some vitamins and minerals. Organic veg crops are higher in antioxidants and have fewer pesticides and toxic heavy metals (among other benefits). These are just some of the great reasons to choose organic.