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Rants: Organic Food

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June 29, 2010

01:54

Organic food is everywhere these days.  Organic beef, organic tea, organic chocolate... Okay, we get it.  You're carbon-based.  Well done.  But does that really mean you're going to be healthy for us in more substantial ways?  

Science in Seconds takes a closer look to determine whether the "organic" label lives up to the scientific hype.

Host: Brit Trogen

Photo credits: Jenni Jones, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Wikimedia users NobbiP, trekkyandy and Midori

References:

http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/ajcn.2010.29269v1?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=organic&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT

http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/90/3/680?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=organic+food&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=5328#more-5328

http://www.ct.gov/caes/cwp/view.asp?a=2815&q=376676

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v410/n6827/full/410409a0.html

YOUR COMMENTS

Chris Buzon on June 29, 2010
Yay! Finally a view that makes sense. :D
on June 29, 2010
Sure, blame the neo hippie for world hunger.
Ed on June 30, 2010
Okay to site the American journal for nutritional value but don't imply they say there is no evidence that the pesticides don't cause other problems. Reminds me of an old tobacco add:) Also, how do you wash out the GMO portion?
Ed on June 30, 2010
Further review of the American Journal study sited provides this comment.
"Combined organic
extracts inhibited
cancer-cell
proliferation to a
significantly greater
extent than combined
conventional extracts
at the 2 highest
concentrations.
Mixed results for
individual cultivar
extracts and for lower
concentrations."
Perhaps no nutritional difference, however all of the other noted side effects like higher exzema and increased cancer cell proliferation in non organic were not part of the study and therefore not covered in the brief overview. Brit may not have seen these unless she read the entire article. Again, this is akin to picking your facts as did the old tobacco company propaganda.
Brit Trogen July 01, 2010
@Ed: Thanks for your comments. While GMO's are another subject entirely (perhaps a good topic for another video...), the point you raise regarding eczema is addressed in the third reference I list. Yes, lower levels of eczema were reported in organic-fed infants, but as I'm sure you noticed, this was a cohort (observational) study, and it's very difficult to be sure there are no confounding factors or noise in the data when dealing with studies of this nature. As for the cell culture studies, since they still don't demonstrate a direct benefit to eating organic food, I'm still not fully convinced (and neither were the authors of the review).

I didn't address these details in my video because it wasn't my primary objective to delve into the details of the individual review. The point I wanted to get across is that while people purchase organic food believing it to be healthier, I have yet to see any hard science backing this up. If you have come across any peer-reviewed studies you feel are relevant to your case, feel free to post them here.

It's important to note, of course, that out of over 98,000 articles searched, only 12 "relevant" studies were chosen for review, so the jury is certainly not out on this issue. As for the tobacco reference, as someone with no vested interest in this matter I'm not entirely sure it's a fitting comparison : )
Hmmm on July 05, 2010
Isn't the absence of negative factors "more HEALTHY"? Not sure I follow the logic that organic = non-organic just because of the nutritional component. And not all synthetic/chemical factors are limited to surface vectors?! Fertilizer, by definition, operates inside plants & animals (esp. milk, grapes, meat).

Agree that GMO, etc. uses less land, but farmers in the U.S., alone, are paid to have 50 million arable acres lie fallow (2007). There are political (agri-trade/Doha Round-type) factors tying up much more land than the increment (of growing organic-vs.-augmented) ever will.
Cathy Bodmer on July 14, 2010
I would never buy organic food for more money as, like you say, how do we know that the stuff is really organic? I would rather save my money and use it to pay for any medical misfortunes that may befall me.

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