By Luis Cabrera
In a comparison between organic and conventional foods, analysts found no evidence of better nutritional content for natural-grown, although organics are 30 percent less likely to contain pesticides.
Critics are demanding more studies.
The result published in the Annals of Internal Medicine looked at 17 different studies comparing individuals who ate organic versus those who did not, and 223 additional studies that evaluated the levels of nutrients, bacteria, fungus or pesticides in several food groups including fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, milk and eggs.
The long term effects on people were not analyzed because none of the studies ran for more than two years. The evidence used has been called “weak” and “variable” by experts that say there are too many changing factors, such as type of soil and climate involved.
But many news outlets carried the story, although some presented it as controversial and left final judgment to the public.
In the case of milk for example, investigators found no discernible difference in the amount of vitamins, protein and fat between organic and non-organic. Some numbers in the studies suggested organic milk did contain higher levels of omega-3 acid.
Organic foods were confirmed to pack more nitrogen, but analysts said this is probably due to different fertilizing techniques and harvest time and they added that more nitrogen does not necessarily mean better.
The findings agree with those of the UK’s Food Standards Agency, which years ago ordered a study into organic foods claims.
The chief researcher in that study, Professor Alan Dangour, said “consumers select organic foods for a variety of reasons.” Dangour works at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, “this latest review identifies there are not convincing differences between organic and conventional,” the expert added.
The lead investigator in this latest study, Dr. Chrystal Smith-Spangler, said many individuals switch to organic for other-than-health reasons, such as concern for the environment, or animal welfare.
She implied the word ‘organic’ is often associated with well-being, but the study proved that is not the case.
“If your decision is based solely on your health,” Smith-Spangler said, “there is not much difference between [the two groups].”
Organic foods are typically sold at higher prices than conventional. Foods
labeled ‘organic’ must meet certain standards.
Although all levels of residue found in non-organic were within safe-consumption range, food experts point out many fruits and tubers can have the skin removed for added safety.