The organic food craze that has swept the nation has many skeptics wondering what the real value of eating organic actually is. Is this just a fashionable gimmick to get people to spend more money at the grocery store for products with dubious added value.
But a new study indicates that organic foods are actually superior to non-organic foods, and that the price difference might not be as dramatic as some people suppose:
The researchers say the increased levels of antioxidants are equivalent to “one to two of the five portions of fruits and vegetables recommended to be consumed daily and would therefore be significant and meaningful in terms of human nutrition, if information linking these [compounds] to the health benefits associated with increased fruit, vegetable and whole grain consumption is confirmed”.
If one organic fruit is worth between 1.5 or 1.7 conventional fruits, the price difference between them is less dramatic. And if the pesticide and fertilizer residue on conventional fruits and vegetables are contributing to heart diseases and cancer, organic food might be far less expensive in the end. You might save a quarter per fruit at the grocery store, only to pay that back later and far more in medical expenses.
Of course, like with anything else, this report has come under fire. Plenty of people will continue to dispute the value of organic foods, and it seems there is no amount of research or evidence that will convince them.
The biggest issue for me in all of this is sustainability. For thousands of years, our ancestors utilized very consistent methods for farming the land. They may not have produced vegetables as huge, or plants that had a genetic resistance to toxic chemicals. But they also didn’t have anywhere near the same rate of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and the rest.
Maybe they didn’t survive long enough to die from those things. But I think it likely that we have not considered our choices thoroughly. Fixing our farming practices is not just about pesticides and antioxidants. It’s about living in community with one another and actually exercising stewardship over the land we live on. If we were to do that, this debate would cease to rage.