The Great Organic Panic That Isn't | Seventh Generation
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The Great Organic Panic That Isn't

Author: the Inkslinger

Say it ain't so! A new study being reported just about everywhere finds (gasp!) that organic foods (no!) are no more nutritious (horror!) than conventional foods (shock!). Media alarms are blaring. Big Agriculture is crowing. Consumers are confused, and just about everyone appears to have forgotten the most important thing of all.


The new research is a metastudy, which means it's a study of studies. Scientists reviewed 240 different projects that one way or another compared nutrient levels in organic foods to levels in conventional foods, and they concluded that when all the evidence is in, there generally isn't much difference between the two.

The reports that followed had the sky falling in on organic foods, which over the last 15 years have exploded from a few hardscrabble hippie farms out on the edge of town into a $26.7 billion-a-year industry. "Shoppers have been fooled," shouted the headlines. "There's no point in paying more for organics. They're just like the cheap stuff!"


Except that they aren't, and saying otherwise completely misses the point.


Organic foods were never supposed to be more nutritious to eat. Any evidence that they were was always just a happy bonus, icing on the organic cake that never impacted the decision to have a big slice in the first place.


Instead, organic foods are ultimately about a much different type of health—the kind that happens when our food system is sustainable and producing the sustenance we require doesn't damage our world and undo our future.


It's about a brand of healthy eating that doesn't come covered in chemical pesticides, destroy our soil, pollute our waters, and sicken our atmosphere. It's about meals that weren't grown in human sewage and didn't have their molecules blasted apart by gamma rays. It's about fruits and vegetables that haven't had their DNA scrambled in modern-day labs and weren't drowned in fossil-fueled fertilizers. It's about treating the living creatures that feed us with kindness not dubious synthetic growth hormones and antibiotic overkill.


It's about sanity.


Though many may have forgotten (half of those surveyed said they buy organics because they're more nutritious), this is why we chose organic foods in the first place. It had nothing to do with vitamins and minerals, and everything to do with the well-being of our world and everyone who lives here.


We buy organics because we believe our food, one of life's most vital necessities, should be as natural as possible. We serve them because we recognize that we ourselves are of the Earth and the farther away we eat from it, the less healthy we may become.


Yes, an organic tomato will give you the same basic dietary boost as one birthed by science, grown in effluent, and raised on pesticides. But it comes with something that that other tomato will never have: a life that leaves no toxic legacy upon the land and no debt to be paid by our children and their bodies.


That will never change and neither should anyone's opinion of organic foods. They're still the best choice and the biggest bargain when it comes to everything that matters.


Photo: Jim Linwood


richard_maliza picture
Well we have found a huge debate on organic and non-organic foods in terms of comparison and difference in between them. Basically we think that organic foods are more nutritious and beneficial for human being therefore in most of the occasion we used to follow organic foods. But in somehow we have found that apart from organic foods we should be more confident on natural foods. plant foods picture
I'm not sure I believe the nutrition aspect. But, what about the other aspects, pesticides, herbicides, other chemicals?? What about GMOs? And something I've found is organic just plain has more taste, and tastes better. But then you might not notice until you get the other junk out of your system and become able to taste things again.
mariemendes picture
Alas, someone is ackowleding the very annoying and aggregating assumption that we have been fooled that organic is no better than non organic. I was so outraged reading these articles because as you pointed out the entire point of organic has nothing to do with nurtition!!! But rather all about non toxic, non pesticide, sustainable practices. I believe you should highlight this more for the masse to see. In my opinion this article was put out to once again market people to the mass produced, gmo, pesticide using, processed ingredient, etc foods. Thank you!
DeannaC picture
Wonderful article!! So well written. So many people don't get it. Healthy, natural & safe. Organic it's only natural.
kerrym16 picture
Great article. I get so tired of the media talking about organic foods and nutrition. The main reason I eat organic is because I can't stand the thought of all those chemicals in my (and my daughter's) body. I truly believe that over years of eating non-organic, those chemicals will build up and cause problems. I will continue to be selective in what I put into my body and my family's body as well!
terrystteri picture
You mean if I'm not eating pesticides and herbicides that doesn't make the food better for me. That makes it better because I'm only getting vitamins and minerals with no unwanted special "ungoodies". Crow all you want big agribusiness. I will still eat organic and encourage everyone I know to do the same.
pwrdbidrumnbass picture
Thank you so very much for writing this article! I agree with you 110%. When I first heard about the great organic panic on my local news I was so upset because as usual, the media twisted things up and gave off the wrong information.
angieo38 picture
You have written a very clear, informative article. I believe that the general public has begun to believe that if it's organic, it must be more nutritious. In my opinion, this thinking is a justification for spending more on organic products. The benefits of eating or using any organic product far outweigh the additional cost. Thank you for arming me with an argument for organic foods!