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Are Organic Foods Healthier?

In the debate about the health value of organic food, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has submitted a rebuttal – organic food has no nutritional benefits over ordinary food.

However, the manner of the study raises questions and the manner of the report in the media has been highly inaccurate.

Closer Look

For this study claiming that organic foods have no nutritional benefits over non-organic, researchers have searched over 50,000 papers, and they have identified a total of 162 relevant articles (published over a fifty-year period leading up to the year 2008).

Additionally, out of these, only 55 papers were found to be of satisfactory quality and these were used to compare the nutrient content of organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs. (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

However, the study eliminated many papers and research studies that other organizations considered valid. It also eliminated any studies that did not focus on the nutrient value of organic foods.

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Additionally, an inherent problem in choosing only 55 papers out of 50,000 is apparent when one considers that other researchers have used the same methods to support their claims that organic foods are nutritionally superior.

In the end, the report itself simply states, “Our review indicates that there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organically over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority” and “despite growing consumer demand for organically produced foods, information based on a systematic review of their nutritional quality is lacking.” (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)

However, news reports on the topic have inaccurately translated these nutritional results into statements that “organic food has no nutritional or health benefits over ordinary food” and “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.” (Reuters, The Daily Mail)

Unfortunately, the reporters, many of whom aren’t skillful in medical or health reporting, have misunderstood the differences between the words “nutrient content” and “health benefit” and translated them to mean the same thing.

This is highly inaccurate. On the most basic and logical level one can see this. For example, if you exercise, it is highly beneficial to your health; however, exercise does not contain ANY nutrients.

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About Dr. Karima Burns
Dr. Karima Burns has been counseling as a Home-path for over 9 years. From the U.S. she is a doctor in Naturopathy, a Master Herbalist, and teaches with inspiration from the Waldorf school. She uses art, health and education to heal others.