Informed choice

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Making your own mind up about organic foodA report commissioned by the Food Standard Agency (FSA) has concluded that organic food is no healthier than non-organic food. The research supposedly found no evidence of any additional health benefits from eating organic. The FSA said the report would help people make an “informed choice”.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine studied evidence from the past 50 years. The study did find some differences in nutrition between organic & non-organically produced food – but “not large enough to be of any public health relevance”.

No differences were found in the levels of vitamin C, iron & calcium in organic crops, meat, dairy & eggs. Differences were found in levels of nitrogen & phosphorus in organic foods, however the study put this down to differences in fertiliser usage & the level of ripeness at harvest.

The review did not look at the effects of pesticides or the environmental impact of different farming practices.

“This study does not mean that people should not eat organic food. What it shows is that there is little, if any, nutritional difference between organic and conventionally produced food and that there is no evidence of additional health benefits from eating organic food.” – Gill Fine, FSA director of consumer choice and dietary health.

Study leader Dr Alan Dangour added that better quality studies were needed. 

The Soil Association said they were disappointed with the conclusions & called for better research. “The review rejected almost all of the existing studies of comparisons between organic and non-organic nutritional differences. Although the researchers say that the differences between organic and non-organic food are not ‘important’, due to the relatively few studies, they report in their analysis that there are higher levels of beneficial nutrients in organic compared to non-organic foods. Also, there is not sufficient research on the long-term effects of pesticides on human health.”  – Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association.

Many feel this report has been prematurely published. There is already a long-term Europe-wide study currently underway researching the benefits of organic food. The ongoing Quality Low Input Food (QLIF) project is thoroughly researching organic food and the results are expected to reveal positive information about organic food. Some early results from QLIF were revealed in 2007 & showed many organic fruit & vegetables contained 40% more nutrients than conventionally-grown foods, including higher levels of iron & zinc. The full results from the QLIF project are not yet published & so the FSA’s report has been issued before evidence supporting organic can be given in defence.

Prof Carlo Leifert from Newcastle Uni, who is heading up the QLIF project said in 2007: “If you have just 20% more antioxidants in every portion of vegetables, then it’s simply a question of maths – eating four portions of organic fruit and vegetables is the equivalent to eating five portions of traditional fruit and vegetables.” In a report two years ago, Prof Leifert also said there is enough evidence for the FSA to change its advice on organic food and is unsure why they have not done so – “I wonder whether it’s more to do with politics.”

“If there are really no nutritional benefits to organic food (unlikely), and we can be told that as a fact, fine. But please, Powers-that-Be, don’t damage an already disproportionately credit crunch-affected sector with what can only be seen as a premature report based on, by the author’s own admission, unreliable data.” – Organic Farmers & Growers Association.

Detox Your World only retails products which it believes in & therefore, as the UK’s leading online retailer of raw organic superfoods, firmly believes in the benefits of organic food. Not only does it taste better but it’s also common sense that eating organic produce, rather than a conventionally-grown version which may be laden with chemicals, is better for our health. The full effect of pesticides on health has yet to be seen & so a report into organic food which does not include pesticides in its research cannot really be taken seriously. We fully support our organic body, the Organic Farmers & Growers association and we know that when the results of the QLIF project & other future studies are published, the media will be able to accurately report on proven scientific results & give organic food the acclaim it deserves.

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One Response to “Informed choice”

  1. Shazzie Says:

    Short term FSA study or long term QLIF study? FSA = gov = big pharma… hmmm, serious maths needed here!

    I never asked for pesticides with my cucumbers, so please don’t ever serve them up for me.

    xlovex

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