More than Half of Americans Value the Health Benefits of Organic Food, Poll Shows

health benefits of organic food
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A new poll from the Pew Research Center has found that 55 percent of Americans believe that organic food, particularly organically grown fruits and vegetables, are healthier than conventional. Forty-one percent believe that there is no difference between the two.

The Center surveyed 1,480 adults nationwide about their eating habits. The poll also asked questions about genetically modified foods (GMOs), showing that more than 60 percent of people are not convinced that GMO foods are worse for the health than other foods. Ten percent of respondents went so far as to state that GMO foods were healthier than non-GMO foods.

“The data suggest that people’s divisions are linked to their interest in food issues and how they think food consumption ties to their well-being,” Cary Funk, lead author and associate director of research at Pew, told UPI about the poll results.

The poll showed that there is a definite gender discrepancy when it comes to these food issues, particularly as far as opinions about GMO foods are concerned. According to the poll, women tend to care more than men about the issue, and most women with strong opinions about GMO foods believe that they are harmful to the health.

More than one-third of the respondents noted a distrust in the scientists studying GMO foods, claiming that “scientists do not understand the health effects of GM at all or not too well,” according to Funk.

Research is split as to whether organic produce is more nutritious than conventional. Amongst other studies on the topic, a 2012 analysis showed no major nutritional difference, while a March study in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that organic is indeed more nutritious than conventional.

Evidence seems more conclusive when it comes to meat and dairy, as a February data review showed that organic meat and milk contain 50 percent more omega-3 fatty acids than their conventional counterparts.

Nutritional content aside, organic agriculture forbids the pesticides present on conventional foods, pointing to superior health benefits of organic food.

The health hazards of GMO foods are notably linked to the increased presence of the herbicide glyphosate on these crops, due to Monsanto’s development of GMO seeds that are resistant to the chemical, which is also the main ingredient in the company’s RoundUp product.

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Emily Monaco
Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is an American food and culture writer based in Paris. She loves uncovering the stories behind ingredients and exposing the face of our food system, so that consumers can make educated choices. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vice Munchies, and Serious Eats.