Organics and HealthA recent study of organic food was carried out at Newcastle University and the interim findings (the final report will be published within a year) have received much media attention. The study, which has taken 4 years and is funded by the European Union (EU) to the current total of 12 million pounds, has examined the nutritional benefits, and the nutrient content, of organic foods versus non-organic foods. According to the scientists, all the organic foods that they examined (and many were grown on site, specifically for the study) contained less fatty acid and more antioxidants than non-organic food.

Antioxidants are important in the human diet to fight cancer cells – so-called ‘superfoods’ such as broccoli and blueberries, are particularly high in antioxidants.

The study found evidence that milk produced from organically raised cattle has between 50% to 80% more antioxidants than milk from non-organic sources. Also, organically grown wheat, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, onions and lettuce have between 20% to 40% more nutrients per portion than the same vegetable grown non-organically. This study is continuing and promises further results and recommendations within the year.

Greater Health Through an Organic Lifestyle According to the Soil Association (SA), on average organic food contains higher levels of vitamin c and other essential minerals – such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and chromium, than food grown non-organically. This is because organic food is produced:

Without Nasty Additives: 290 food additives are approved for use in non-organic agriculture throughout the EU. The SA only allows 32 of these.

GM Free: Genetic Modification of plants (and animals) is an untried science, that destabilises crops, damages seeds for the future, and impacts heavily upon the environment.

Pesticide Free: 311 pesticides are licensed for use within non-organic agriculture throughout the EU. The evidence exists to show that high levels of pesticides remain in crops, even after washing. Who wants to eat this? Why should anyone accept pesticides in food?

The Consumer’s Choice – Exploring the Evidence Ultimately, both the organic producers and the non-organic producers will put their sides of the story across and try to persuade consumers that their way is best. The non-organic producers have a huge food industry behind them, with big budgets and persuasive advertising to try and show consumers that there really is nothing wrong with the way they produce food.

Organic farmers and producers have a less established industry to draw upon, but a much more valid argument if they don’t use any of the nasty stuff in producing the food we like to eat. Both sides are fighting for a huge market, with much profit at stake. The organic food producers are literally carving out a chunk of the non-organic producers market for themselves – and this will continue, as consumers spend their money, putting personal and family health first, by believing the argument that organic food is really better for you, as well as the environment.

The consumer has the power of choice in all this – and access to each consumer’s purse and weekly food budget is the stake here. Through research, talking and tasting, every consumer can decide for himself or herself whether eating organic food really does improve health. The evidence exists to show that organic food is healthier (than non-organic food) for the individual; organic food is also certainly healthier for the environment.