“No evidence organic foods benefit health: study.” That’s the headline of a story that Reuters published on Monday.
If true, this would’ve been news to me, so I checked it out. Sure enough, they elaborate in the first sentence that “there is currently no strong evidence that organics bring nutrition-related health benefits, a new research review finds.” I couldn’t believe what I was reading until I got to the end and figured it out: the study ignored all the health benefits of avoiding synthetic chemicals.
So let’s set aside, for the moment, that “green living” means eating less processed meat (which increases your risk of heart disease) and red meat (which increases your risk of bladder cancer, among other things) and just focus on the term “organic.” Strictly speaking, organic food is food that has been grown or raised without the use of synthetic chemicals. Conventional farms use insecticides, herbicides, and fertilizers to grow fruits and vegetables, and inject their animals with antibiotics and growth hormones. Organic farms cut all that stuff out. There are some other parts of the definition, but being chemical-free is the heart of it.
There are lots of reasons to avoid pesticides—as Canada already knows. Pesticides have been linked to ADHD in children. Pesticide sprayers are at risk for blood disorders. Pesticide-free plants are more nutrient-dense and have more polyphenols and antioxidants.
The bottom line is that you need to pay attention to what you eat and what you read. If you come across a report that disses organic food but doesn’t mention any of the dangers of pesticides, growth hormones, or antibiotics, then you’re not reading science or journalism—you’re reading propaganda.
Image credit: The U.S. Army