Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Organic or Conventional? 4 reasons to still choose organic

Organic or Conventional, what's the difference?
Well, according to the most recent news off the block from Stanford, apparently not much. This summary of the research, from a NY Times blogexplains, 
"A new study by Stanford researchers has added fuel to a debate about the differences between organic and conventionally grown foods. The Stanford report, an analysis of 237 studies of organic produce, meats and dairy foods, concluded that organic foods are no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts."
When I first heard the report, I initially thought, "Okay, well then I guess I shouldn't feel so bad when I do eat conventional produce, which is probably 40-50% of the time" (based on what I buy according to EWG's Dirty Dozen list).  But the more I got to thinking about it, the more irked I was. I don't believe the study was funded by outside sources, so hopefully there are no conflicts of interest, but here is why buying organic, when available and possible, is worth your while:

  1. There's no "safe level" of pesticides for our bodies, regardless of what the FDA says. Yes, our bodies were created in an amazing way to weed out nasty things and release toxins, but the environment, processed foods, needless drugs and antibiotics often take their toll on our bodies, making it harder and harder for organs such as our livers to do their jobs.  Choosing organic means one less toxic thing we put into our bodies and one less thing our bodies have to wrestle with, and many have reported whether it's anecdotal or scientifically documented, improvements in health upon switching to organic.
  2. Choosing organic means you're not supporting GMO or genetically modified foods.  These are foods, which as the name suggests, are genetically changed so that the foods are bigger, different colors, or so that apples won't turn brown when cut open.  GMO is a really hot topic right now, and if you want to learn more about it, see here: Millions Against Monsanto
  3. Choosing organic can often mean you're supporting a smaller-scale family farm or at least a farm committed to not contributing to the toxic effect we all feel from pesticides and nasty chemicals in our land, water, and food.  I'm not a farmer, but the fewer chemicals we have around us, the better.
  4. Pesticides are connected to ADHD and other diseases.  It is especially important for a pregnant or nursing mother to remove as many pesticides from her diet and choose organic when she can.  Occasionally, I feel silly for trying to ensure that most if not all of Gabe and Mia's fruits & veggies are organic (again, according to EWG list), but when I realize all the other things they're up against in this world, it's just one other protection I can offer.
There are surely more reasons than just these four, but they are the first that came to mind. 

For now, I'm going to continue to buy organic when I can, based on availability and finances.  It might not always be possible, and the Dirty Dozen list changes yearly, so things will always be in flux, but I don't think this new Stanford finding will change much of what I do.

What about you?  Do you buy organic?  Conventional? How has this new Stanford report affected your thinking about buying organic?


The Bigelows said...

I purchase organically whenever possible, but I am constantly at odds, because when my organic apples come from South America, I wonder if the difference made is negligible ... when considering fossil fuel spent to get it here, questions regarding farming practices there, etc. I feel that supporting local/seasonal foods is as important as supporting the organic movement, but then again, when toddlers are in your house, having fruits on hand year round is definitely a plus, even when not in "season." So I'm always in a pickle! But I console myself by thinking at least I am making SOME effort! It can just get exhausting! :-)

Megan said...

Heather, I totally agree, and you make a valid point. There is a lot of value to also buying locally and in season. However, it almost seems like a foreign concept at times. It would seem "buying local" would be easy if it's in my "neighborhood," so to speak, but it's not always as cut & dry. Does that mean off fruit stands on the side of the road? Finding a local farm? Joining a CSA? It can be quite confusing.
Also, we just love apples, and having them available year-round at our grocery store is nice, but obviously getting them organic all year-round can be very pricy as well. I just try to use my best judgment.
Don't get me started on organic grapes #justnotfeasible

The Bigelows said...

Yup- exactly. For me local is trying to support any local farmers/proprietors (farm stands, what not) that I can first, and then get the rest from Publix. And then from there, I try to keep it in the US, esp if it's East Coast. But that's a perfect shopping/planning week. We love and eat apples year round, too, as well as bananas etc, so we're certainly not perfect at it. And frankly, I am a wuss, because I'm all about seasonal stuff until January rolls around and NOTHING yummy is in season, ha! Like you said, we just have to use common sense, and do the best we can! One's grocery budget can only stretch so far!