1/28/13

How Organic Do You Want It?

The buzz word amongst paleo and health connoisseurs is organic. Like a super class among produce, organic is held at a higher standard. "This head of broccoli is twice the cost per pound. O, but it says organic. I'll take a dozen." Okay so I may have exaggerated but people are willing to empty the wallet because something says organic. [Before we go any further I would like to clarify that we are only talking about vegetables  and fruit right now, not animal products.] When I asked people what their main reason for buying organic was, they said:

  • "Its got more vitamins and stuff."
  • "It's healthier right?"
  • "They're less likely to cause cancer."
and finally,
  • "It's better for the environment man."




For the longest time I have thought the exact same way. Just by listening to the rumor mill, and applying what I assumed was common sense organic seemed the way to go. After all, grass fed beef that is minimally processed is organic and that stuff is awesome. however, a recent article and study have peaked my thirst for knowledge.

Is Organic Produce Really Best

A Stanford study that was made public 2012 flat out tried to reverse our thinking on organic produce. To keep it simple, the study said that organic produce DOES NOT have higher vitamin or mineral counts. They reviewed 237 studies and came to the conclusion that there was almost no benefit, nutritionally at least, to buying organic. So it this is true, then would our organic overpriced veggies be worth it? "what bout pesticides? Organic means no pesticides right?"

Pesticide Free Doesn't Mean Pesticide Free

I too believed that organic meant pesticide free. That fresh flavor must come from the lack of manmade poison on my food. With further investigation it seems I was wrong, yet again. The FDA will still declare produce "organic" as long as a "natural" pesticide is used. Don't believe that the pesticide is healthier either. One small scale study found that "organic" pesticides allowed by the FDA are more toxic to humans than synthetics [quotations are necessary for investigation purposes]. Most shocking was that these pesticides are more acutely toxic, meaning it takes less to produce a negative effect. Many people buy organic for the environment though. Does this mean that the extra doll-hairs we spend are for the good of mother nature?

Waste Land

A synthetic pesticide usually requires two applications per crop cycle. An "organic" pesticide requires up to 7 coats. We've already established that organic pesticides can be more harmful in smaller doses. How dangerous are they in greater quantity? This also means the environment has to suffer through 3 times as much pesticide. Toxicity on a global scale can increase. So a question arises, "If something is more toxic, does that make more carcinogenic?"
"I love vegetables!" "Can you breath the difference? This Air is Organic!"

We Don't Like Yer Kind 'Round Here [carcinogens]

A fun fact most people don't know [including me until recently] is that plant's naturally produce more carcinogens than most things in our day to day lives. They're dangerous to certain insects, and carcinogenic to humans. However, current research informs us that it is much more dangerous to not eat vegetables, than it is to eat them. In other words it is worse to have malnutrition than to increase your cancer risk [malnutrition can increase cancer risk even more]. The benefit to risk ration is lopsided towards benefits. So carcinogens are going to be in vegetables no matter where they come from.

But It Tastes Better

I was talking with someone about this, and they brought up a good point. "Why does organic taste better?" My first thought was that my brain had tricked my taste buds into enjoying organic to justify the cost. But after some pondering and googling I realized that the biggest benefit to organic [possibly the only] is that they are more fresh. For an organic farmer to thrive he will get his produce to the shelves faster. Not to mention when you buy organic it's most likely closer to your area. Some stores purchase all of their organics from local farmers, right in your area. So at least all of that organic spinach you bought was fresher.

I don't know what to think of this. Fresher Coke?
I know this is a blow to many of us. I for one was in denial at first. After a few hours of researching I could not pretend any more. Organic produce is not the almighty stable in our food pyramid. At the least I've been supporting local farmers this whole time.

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About Me

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BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.