In 2009 the UK Food Standards Agency commissioned a report which looked at 162 studies on organic food and came to the conclusion that organic food is no more nutritionally beneficial than conventionally grown food. Wow. That’s like comparing a Toyota Prius to a Hummer and concluding that the engines wear out at the same rate. Well, maybe yeah, but that’s not really the deciding factor between whether you buy a hybrid or a gas guzzler. Somebody has just spent a heck of a lot of time missing the entire point.
The report didn’t take into account the effects of pesticides on the human body or the environmental impacts of conventional vs. organic farming. As a purely research-based exercise, I do get it – it was beyond the scope of the project. It’s actually a good and valid exercise to find these things out. In fact, I was rather surprised that 55 out of those 162 studies did find some nutritional superiority in the organic food. But that’s certainly not why I eat it – that’s just a great bonus.
What I do find annoying is when pieces of research like this are picked up by the press, the results are dumbed down and suddenly the headlines read ‘Organic Food is Bunk’ or something like that. I don’t expect more vitamin C if I’m making a squeezing an organic lemon into my lemon drizzle cake; what I do expect is to not be squeezing in a cocktail of herbicides and fungicides and otherwise pesticides. Mmmmm…sodium tetrathiocarbonate cake. Nummy.