Market Musings Blog

Why buy organic?

If you’ve listened to public radio or been on the internet during the last week, you’ve likely heard about how organic food isn’t healthier than conventional. Here are are thoughts.

The Selby store's produce manager, Matt, shows a customer our selection of organically grown greens.

Reporters and researchers who have come to this conclusion are basing it on a study of previous research recently released by Stanford University showing that organic foods do not consistently have a higher level of vitamins and minerals than conventionally grown foods. This research isn’t anything new.

This study is easily critiqued by noticing that the researchers’ definition of health is limited to just levels of vitamins and minerals. I don’t know of anyone who eats organic food because they think there’s going to be more calcium or folic acid in the food. People eat organic foods to avoid pesticide exposure (the far lower levels are supported by this research study), avoid antibiotic-resistant bacteria, GMOs, growth hormones and animals crammed into cages. They eat organic food to support farmers who invest in biodiversity, topsoil conservation, and long-term sustainability.

But folks who are just flipping through the paper might skim these headlines and conclude that organic foods are not healthier. If you hear friends talking about this, please jump in the conversation to expand people’s definition of health beyond nutrition to the broader environment. We don’t live in a vacuum. Our health is impacted by the environment, pesticides, growth hormones, GMOs, antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Organic food IS healthier.

Here are some articles from trusted sources responding to this survey:

Are organics more nutritious? Again? Sigh. by Marion Nestle

Organic food isn’t more nutritious, but that isn’t the point by Brian Fung of The Atlantic

Actually… Organic foods ARE healthier for you (and everything else living on the planet) by Rodney North

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