When British author and Olympic athlete Lord Northbourne coined the phrase “organic farming” in 1940, and in turn, helped facilitate the organic movement against chemical fertilizers and pesticides, he probably had no idea that the industry would end up being worth a whopping $29 billion.
But, as with any cause or movement, skeptics have been questioning this industry for years wondering one thing: Is organic produce really better than conventional produce? In 2010, researchers with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Health in the UK conducted a research review of 162 articles over the past 50 years, which summed up that organics bring no nutrition-related health benefits. Adding insult to injury of course, is the 2012 report, published in the Journal of Social Psychological & Personality Science, that concludes that exposure to organic foods can “harshen moral judgments.” Translation: Those who opt for organic produce are jerks.
While skeptics and believers may continue debating if there are truly any additional nutritional benefits with opting for organic produce, a recent study by Stanford University can sum up one thing for sure: Consuming organic produce reduces intake of pesticide residues.
The study, which can be found online at the website of The Annals of Internal Medicine, analyzed data from over 230 field studies and 17 human studies to compare pesticide residues, antibiotic resistance and vitamin and nutrient levels in organic and conventionally produced foods.
What did the study find? When it comes to chicken and pork, conventionally raised meat has more antibiotic resistant bacteria and thus, those who consume it are 33 percent more likely to ingest three or more strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria than those who eat organic meat.
Sonya Lunder, senior analyst at Environmental Working Group stated:
“The study confirms the message that EWG and scores of public health experts have been sending for years, that consumers who eat organic fruits and vegetables can significantly reduce pesticide concentrations in their bodies. This is a particularly important finding for expectant mothers and kids, because the risks of dietary exposures to synthetic pesticides, especially organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides, are greatest during pregnancy and childhood, when the brain and nervous system are most vulnerable. These are two groups that should really avoid eating foods with high levels of pesticide residues.”
The health risks of pesticides are being investigated by researchers around the world. Preliminary studies have found that pesticide levels increase risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. But that’s not all! Some pesticides (such as the organophosphates and carbamates) affect the nervous system, others irritate skin and eyes, some are carcinogens and others affect the endocrine system in our bodies.