There seems to be an organic revolution occurring in the U.S., Canada, and western European countries these days, but despite mainstream raving about organic benefits, the question remains: is organic really the best way to go? Even with the obvious cost factor aside, the answer is “maybe not.” If you’re currently paying exorbitant prices for organic food—because it’s supposedly healthier or less saturated with pesticides, or whatever your reason may be—you may want to carefully reconsider your grocery list:
In September 2012, Stanford University’s Center for Health Policy conducted extensive research on the nutritional benefits of both organic and conventional food. By the end of the study—which consisted of analyses on existing studies—the scientists concluded that there was no significant difference in the health or nutritional benefits between conventional and organic foods. While the pesticide content was generally lower in organic foods (yes, lower, not nonexistent), the overall difference between the two types is so minimal that it seems hardly worth paying higher prices for over-hyped organic foodstuff.
The biggest drawback to organic produce, meat, eggs, etc. is the cost! Some organic food costs as much as 2-3 times its nonorganic counterparts, and for many families, paying for the basic necessity of food is difficult enough without the added cost associated with lessened pesticide use. Going to a farmer’s market is a viable option for someone looking for organic (or mostly organic) food without a massive price tag. You can also check out local savings in your area—nonorganic foods are on sale more often than organic foods, and finding deals or coupons on sites like SumoCoupon can help you scale back your grocery expenses. Unless you prioritize the ‘organically grown’ aspect over the cost of food, ditching organic is the way to go (until organic prices level out in the distant future).
According to the Scientific American on July 18, 2011, “Organic farming, just like other forms of agriculture, still uses pesticides and fungicides to prevent critters from destroying their crops.” Although the pesticide content is less than conventionally-grown crops, the fact remains that there are, in fact, pesticides in organic produce.
The article went on to say that even though organic farms use “natural pesticides” and fungicides such as copper and sulfur, these chemicals still pose potentially serious health risks and conclusions on their impact on the environment are conflicting, at best. The Scientific American even pointed out that Canadian scientists compared “reduced risk” pesticides with synthetic pesticides used on conventional farms and discovered that the synthetic pesticides were “more effective” and less “ecologically damaging” than their “organic” counterparts.
A pastry with an organic food label (Bio) is on display
Last but not least, some people claim that organic food simply tastes better, which serves as their justification for paying higher prices to get “better” food. However, in a Cornell study cited by a 2011 Time Magazine article on whether organic food tastes better, it was found that, in a taste test between what participants were told “conventional” and “organic” foods (everything was actually organic), participants stated that the foods labeled “organic” tasted better and had lower levels of fat. Although this is just one study, it shows that, perceptually, organic food may seem better, but in reality, many of us cannot differentiate between what’s organic and what’s not.