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The publication of a recent Stanford study has created roar in the organic food community. According to the paper, published in the “Annals of Internal Medicine,” although “consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” there is a lack of “strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods.”
These results have sparked an array of responses, especially across the Internet. Some blogs have created petitions to withdraw the article from the journal.
They argue that the study did not cover all aspects of organic farming, such as benefits for the environment. Perhaps that is true. However, the study should not be completely disregarded, especially by customers who spend large portions of their paychecks on organic products.
Without a doubt, these findings beg the question: Are the purveyors of organic food really as interested in consumers’ health as much as they are in a $30 billion industry? Is the organic food industry merely a well-designed ploy, with the appearance of promised health?
This seems to be the case. Although the organic food industry rarely promises additional nutrition in their advertising, ads featuring healthy-looking produce may lead the unaware customer to buy an organic product for additional nutrients.
“The fact is, organic food has become a wildly lucrative business for Big Food and a premium-price-means-premium-profit section of the grocery store,” wrote New York Times journalist Stephanie Strom. “The industry’s image – contented cows grazing on the green hills of family-owned farms – is mostly pure fantasy. Or rather, pure marketing.”
Organic food often costs double the price of conventional foods. In some cases, organic food can be three times more expensive than its conventional counterpart.
If the Stanford research is accurate, this means customers are paying almost double the price for a product with no significant nutritional seriority to conventional foods.
Consumers need to be aware that apples bought for $2.50 per pound are no more nutritious than the $.99 per pound variety.
They also should be aware that the organic food industry may be taking advantage of them with the appearance of nutrition.
If organic foods are purchased to lower pesticide levels within blood, then the purchase may be justified. However, if organic foods are purchased with the hope to increase vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in the consumer’s diet, it may be healthier for the family budget to consider buying equally nutritious conventional food.