Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Food For Thought: Organic Food Worth Buying

Organic onions

The organic industry is running into some growing pains, reports this AOL piece -- especially when it comes to compliance monitoring (e.g.,  making sure that foods are being randomly tested and violators' products are immediately pulled from shelves).  Does that mean that one shouldn't buy organic?

Consider one recent study that demonstrated the potentially significant health benefits of organics -- avoiding what's NOT in them.
And at least one peer-reviewed study has shown that organic foods offer a potential benefit in what they don't contain. 
It was conducted in 2008 by Chensheng Lu, then a professor at Emory University's School of Public Health and a leading authority on pesticides and children, who took as his subjects a group of children living on Mercer Island, a wealthy suburb of Seattle.

Over the course of a year, Lu, now at Harvard, fed 21 children ages 3 to 11 conventional fruits, vegetables and juices from nearby grocery stores for five days at a time. Then the kids were switched to organic foods.

Twice daily on multiple days in each of the four growing seasons, he tested their urine and saliva. When the children ate conventional food, markers of organophosphates -- the family of pesticides spawned by the creation of nerve gas agents in World War II -- appeared in the biological samples. None was found when the children were eating organic.

"The transformation is extremely rapid. Within eight to 36 hours of the children switching to organic food, the pesticides were no longer detected," Lu said at the time.

"Once you switch from conventional food to organic, the pesticides (malathion and chlorpyrifos) that we can measure in the urine disappears. The level returns immediately when you go back to the conventional diets."

Lu is repeating the study in two different communities. The exposure levels observed in Lu's study were lower than the levels that the Environmental Protection Agency regards as safe. But many public health experts and advocates believe those levels are in fact not safe, especially for children.
That's pretty striking.  In addition to the peace of mind I get from avoiding nasty pesticides (and doing my part to help keep them out of the environment), I also find many organic products taste better. Furthermore, I have seen research detailing how they contain greater levels of several important vitamins, including powerful anti-oxidants.  A new book details many of these benefits, which are also summarized in this Planet Green piece...

Read more>>

More on the subject from Planet Green>>

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