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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Q: Is Organic Healthier? A: No!

Local, organic and sustainable foods have skyrocketed in visibility and popularity over the last decade. Farmers markets and community supported agriculture have made vegetables vogue composting cool. To chefs and food lovers this earthy resurgence is a welcome gold mine of gastronomic possibilities. There is something inviting about eating what was in the ground only a few hours before. There is also something questionable about the characterization of certain aspects of the sustainable, organic foods movement.

 One of these questions is nutrition. Without a doubt fresh locally grown produce is unmatched in taste but is it really healthier than conventionally grown foods? Many organic farmers’ fervent claim is that what they grow is nutritionally superior to what is found in the local supermarket after a cross country ride from the farm.  Is it? Or is it a clever marketing ploy?

Obesity and a host of other diseases are blamed on foods devoid of nutrients. Yet are these issues truly caused by foods low in nutrients? Are we as a people lacking in these or other key nutrients? The answer to both is no. Some may be too fat but it not caused by a lack of vitamin C or iron. A recent article at Scientific American throws dirt on the organic is healthier claim.  

The nutrient density of our food supply is questioned by some in the business of nutrition and organic type farming. Yet a little observation will prove that theory false. For example diseases of nutrient deficiency such as rickets and kwashiorkor are unheard of in our country. Why is this? Because the foods we eat whether organic or conventional plentifully supply the nutrients we need for proper growth and development.

I whole heartedly support using foods grown in my own community. The flavors and uniqueness of such are fascinating. Moreover it serves to remind me of the garden my grandparents kept as I was growing up. I don’t however have an appetite for misinformation and to say that organic is healthier is cooking the facts.

That said go and enjoy all of the fresh local and organic food you want to. Just don’t think you live to 120 and die of nothing for doing it.  

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