Many people will proclaim “I only buy organic” with much pride that those who buy conventional foods will be almost convinced to follow their lead. For those who emphasize on purchasing organic foods, the reasons that they cite is that they are safer because they do not contain pesticides and fertilizers (in the case of fruits and vegetables) or growth hormones (in the case of livestock) and are healthier. What many are left wondering is whether organic foods have the impacts to their health as they have on their wallets. This is a debate that has ensued among experts and consumers for a long time. So, where is the truth?
Research has proven that there is little difference between the nutritional content of organic and conventional foods. Those who buy and consume organic foods with the belief that they are healthier than conventional foods do not get value for their money that they think they are getting. In 2012, researchers based at Stanford University Medical School conducted a comprehensive study – “Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier than conventional Alternatives” where they studied 240 studies related to humans (17) and nutrient and contamination levels (223). The results of the study did not support the theory that organic foods any safer or contain more vitamins than conventional foods.
The only difference was that organic foods has a 30% lower pesticide risk compared to conventional foods, but the risk was within safety levels. However, there are no enough studies done to evaluate whether the “acceptable limits” pose a risk to anyone, especially in children and pregnant women. The researchers also found that organic foods had a high content of phosphorus, but that was insignificant because phosphorus deficiency is only found in a small fraction of the whole population.
The decision to purchase organic or conventional is, thus, a choice that one has to make depending on the needs of their family and their pocket capabilities. Whether one consumes organic or conventional foods, the evidence is that neither has an additional advantage over the other. However, if, as a consumer, you are can afford organic food, remember the low pesticide levels in them can offer an advantage. Even though it has not been proven it is up what levels, taking caution does not hurt.