free debate

August 10, 2009

Skepticism and Daily Health: Organic Food

Another common "health" product is organic food. Organic products are grown without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics, growth hormones, or genetic modification. This is supposedly better for you, as there are no harsh chemicals in the food. Individuals often claim that it tastes better as well. But, there are a few issues with the idea of organic food.
First of all, the term "organic food" is a major misnomer. All living things, and products from living things, are, by definition, "organic". They are made up of carbon chains. The idea that an apple is not organic if pesticides were used while growing it is really not true. It's still organic. It's just doesn't have a little "organic" certification sticker.

More importantly, there is no proven health benefit of eating "organic" food versus any other produce. In fact, a Biritsh agency recently did a study on the differences between "organic" and "non-organic" produce. There is a very slight difference in the levels of a couple of nutrients, but not enough to actually affect health. So, "organic" food doesn't have any health benefit in that regard. Also, to date, there is no good evidence showing that pesticides in food hurt humans. The levels are too low.

So, "organic" food isn't significantly different from any other produce. If you happen to like it better, for taste or whatever, that's your choice. But the science isn't there to support paying more for "organic food" because of its health benefits.

EHSO- Pesticides in Your Food
BBC News- Organic 'has no health benefits'