Does organic mean better?
One of my favourite times of the week is Sunday morning when I visit my local farmers markets. I have noticed that among the colourful, fresh produce, the amount and variety of organic fruit and vegetables is quite literally growing.
It’s not just at farmers markets either; organic food is highlighted in every supermarket and recipes make special note of organic ingredients.
Statistics show the organic food industry is growing at a fast pace worldwide with a prediction that by 2016, 30% of Australia’s food will be organic.
Now more than ever before, the nutritional superiority of organic food is often touted, but it begs the question: is organic food really better for us than conventionally grown food?
It is interesting to note that the scientific evidence to support the claims for nutritional superiority of organic foods is simply not there.
It is true that we consumers do perceive organic food to be healthier than conventional food, despite insufficient evidence to support this view.
Some reports have shown the protein content to be lower and the content of Vitamin C and some minerals and phytochemicals to be higher. However, these studies have been unreliable.
Reviews of the broader scientific literature indicate that there is little or no difference in the nutrient content of foods that are produced by organic or conventional methods.
Like every decision we make about food, choosing organic food is a personal choice.
The issue of pesticides is a factor that encourages people to purchase organic foods over conventional. Despite this, there is the possibility that organic produce could contain pesticide residue from contamination from neighbouring conventional farms and organic farms may use botanical pesticides.
The levels of pesticide residues are generally lower in organic produce, yet the levels of pesticide in conventional produce are already much lower than the acceptable daily intake set by the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority.
Let’s not forget that budget can be a barrier to choosing healthier food for all of us and the cost of organic food can be a real financial stumbling block.
Whether at work or home, eating more fruit and vegetables as a whole should be a focus because many people just don’t eat enough of them. Fruit and vegetables are one of the easiest healthy additions to meals and snacks.
Until next time…