In light of the recent Stanford study that called into question the value of higher-priced organic foods, Whole Foods Market, the leading retail chain with a focus on organic foods, defended the industry in a recent interview with Yahoo'sThe Daily Ticker.
Co-CEO of Whole Foods Market and Stanford graduate, Walter Robb, said he disagrees with the Stanford study, which compiled 40 years worth of data on the nutritional value of organic and conventional foods, mainly fruits and vegetables.
While the research did highlight the decreased risk of exposure to pesticides and antibiotics inherently absent in organic foods, the biggest focal point was the comparable nutritional value to conventional produce, which tends to be less expensive than organic options.
Many leading food, health and environmental advocates took issue with Stanford's study citing the decreased risk of exposure to pesticides and antibiotics—not just for the consumer, but also for the farmer and the environment—is as valuable, if not even more so, than, say, how much vitamin C is in an orange.
Robb notes recent studies that also contradicted the Stanford study's findings with data that found the nutritional intensity of organic foods were 20 to 50 percent greater than their conventional counterparts. All the factors add up for educated consumers invested in the healthiest, low-impact food choices, which is certainly being seen at the register, according to Robb. The growth of organic food sales are outpacing conventional—at three to four times the rate.
Stanford study researcher, Dr. Ingram Olkin, was called out recently for ties to the tobacco industry and a generally corporate-serving agenda. Olkin is suspected of providing false data intended to diminish the value of organic food. Critics suspect the timing corresponds to California's Proposition 37—a November 2012 ballot initiative that could make it the first state to require mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients. By definition, organic foods cannot contain any GMOS.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger