Is the Quality of Organic Food Better Than Conventional Food?
We are all aware of the major discrepancies in price of organic food products versus conventional food products. Which brings us to the question, “Is it worth the extra money to consume organic food versus conventional food?”
What really is “organic” anyway?
In order for us to make a responsible decision, let’s equip ourselves with the basic knowledge of organic versus conventional food. Organic production practices are centered around values that promote biological diversity, sustainability, minimal synthetic material use, and soil fertility. What are the requirements? Organic crops/food must be free from synthetic chemical treatments for at least three years without genetic modification, synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, and ionizing radiation. What about our livestock? We see organic meat packages labeling products as free from hormones and antibiotics and fed with organic food. Does this mean that all organic food is grow without fertilizers or pesticides? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Let’s dismiss that myth right there. What this does mean is that the fertilizers and pesticides used in organic practices do not contain synthetic chemicals.
So, Tyler, the argument is over right? Since conventional foods can contain synthetic chemicals, organic chemicals automatically reign superior right? Ummmmm…… not necessarily. In reality, nature itself is consumed with “chemicals” or toxins. I mean really, the water we drink is straight up chemicals (H20). But that’s for another day. Plenty of synthetic chemicals or materials or foods exist in the very foods that we eat on a daily basis. A lot of which actually are considered to promote health and proven safe. However, it all comes down to individual beliefs because the current literature DOES NOT provide sufficient long-term evidence that organic foods provide greater overall health outcomes versus conventional foods.
Organic vs. Traditional Nutrient Composition in Relation to Pesticide Exposure
What current and previous scientific literature shows us is that conventional foods tend to contain a higher nitrogen content versus organic food which has a higher concentration of phosphorus. We can report other nutrient levels in comparison between organic and traditional food, however, differences were statistically insignificant. We also see that organic food typically has a little bit more of vitamins compared to conventional food with a lower protein content. What differs in terms of protein, is the quality of protein has proven a bit better than conventional food. Overall, both studies and many other controlled studies are unable to determine overall health outcomes with consumption of organic food versus traditional food. Why so? Well many variables exist including fertilizer or pesticide use, season, natural conditions, transportation of foods, you name it. Further, we even see variation in the same exact conventional or organic food that is produced on different farms during two different seasons. That variable in itself is eye-opening.
Again, this is not to bash organic or traditional food. At the end of the day, this information is solely presented for educational purposes in giving us access to current information. If organic food is affordable, go for it, if conventional food is affordable go for it. We don’t have to fall into the placebo trap of “I can taste the chemicals in conventional food.” There are so many other factors that play a role into the final taste of our food. Whether organic or conventional food, consistently making proper nutritional choices will have a greater influence on our health outcomes. As always, let’s keep getting #BETTERTOGETHER!