If you haven’t heard, a review study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that Organic Food isn’t any healthier than conventional. This got me thinking about organic food and its benefits in our diet — real and perceived.
1) Making organic the measure for “healthy:” “Everything I make is organic and from scratch” an acquaintance told me as he listed off the comfort foods he provides for her family. He assumed his meals are healthy because of the fresh, organic ingredients he uses.
2) Assuming organic means the same for all food products: Organic means different things for different types of food. For produce, organic means no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers were used in farming.
3) Ignoring other health aspects of food: Another mistake is ignoring other health considerations. Research shows grass-fed cows produce meat (and milk, cheese and yogurt) that contains more favorable fats (less saturated fat, more beneficial CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and omega-3 fatty acids, and higher antioxidants. Not all organic meats are grass-fed, and not all farmers can afford the “organic” seal, so they may use less costly certified naturally grown, which is similar to organic standards.
4) Believing organic has fewer calories: In a 2010 study in the Journal of Judgment and Decision Making, cookies described as being made with “organic” ingredients, were rated as having fewer calories than cookies not labeled that way. Organic cookies are still cookies.
5) Misunderstanding the benefits: The organic label is one of many claims that can help consumers make purchasing decisions. According to the review study, organic produce lowered pesticide contamination by 30%, although all levels were below safety limits. There have been a couple of studies showing that children who eat organic diets have lower pesticide residues in their urine.