Organic wave: at the crest?

04/10/2014 10:37:00 AM
Tom Karst

Tom KarstIs organic’s popularity at its crest or still rising?

 The obvious answer is “still rising,” of course. But Washington Post coverage of organic, “Is it better for your health? A look at milk, meat, eggs, produce and fish” answers its own question with ambivalence.

From the article:

Bottom line: While there may be no significant nutritional difference between organic and conventional produce, organic does have lower levels of pesticide residue. However, there isn’t universal agreement on the risk those residues pose.

 The Organic Trade Association responded to The Washington Post story with a release of its own:

 Here is a taste of the OTA release:

Unfortunately, the produce section of this article lumps too many fruit and vegetable categories together to give a true overview of the nutritional differences between organic and conventional. To truly examine nutritional quality variations between farming systems, specific products need to be compared. Broad generalizations like those made by the Stanford study are impossible. Recent studies that have made more specific comparisons among organic and conventional have found some pretty convincing evidence for nutritional superiority in some organic categories. For example, a study published in 2013 found that organic tomatoes were 50 percent higher in vitamin C content than conventional tomatoes, and had 139 percent higher total phenolic content.

This article also strikes out on the importance of avoiding pesticides. The article does cite research showing that eating organic will decrease exposure to pesticides, but does not give proper weight to the health benefits of reduced pesticide exposure.

In other organic news, the appropriation of the Wild Oats brand for Wal-Mart packaged organic goods apparently has no impact on fresh produce. Find the Wal-Mart news release here

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service has released an overview of organic statistics, which can be found here.


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