21 July 2011
Organic Foods are not Worth the Expense
Health-conscious consumers have an interest in knowing if the extra money they spend on organic food is justified. The organic food industry, therefore, has a large financial interest in convincing the public that the food they sell is healthier, tastier, safer, and better for the environment.
Organic Foods are not Healthier
One of the main reasons people pay up to three times more for organic foods is based on the belief that organic foods are nutritionally superior; however, this popular belief is not backed by science. A recent study lead by Dr. Alan Dangour, a professor at the London School of Hygiene ...view middle of the document...
A comprehensive review published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, debunked the fictional belief that nitrate is a cancer-causing chemical and a public health hazard (Hord et al. 1). In fact, the review showed that the existing data supports higher levels of nitrate in food, as nitrates “play essential physiologic roles supporting cardiovascular health and gastrointestinal immune function” (Hord et al. 8). Another recent study published in Medical Hypotheses, found that eating fruits and vegetables high in nitrates might help lower obesity, diabetes, hypertension, pulmonary hypertension, osteoporosis, and coronary artery disease (Ralt 794-95). Therefore, if anything, the Dangour study proved that conventionally grown crops are healthier than organically grown crops due to the benefits derived from higher levels of dietary nitrate.
Organic Foods are not Tastier
Many people purchase high-priced organic food items based on the idea that organic foods will invariably taste better than those grown using conventional methods. In a comprehensive review of objective taste tests, Bourn and Prescott of the Department of Food Science at the University of Otago in New Zealand found that “there is yet to be convincing evidence that organic produce differs in sensory terms from conventional produce, let alone that there is some taste advantage” (Bourn, Prescott 22). Therefore, anyone who buys organic food for its increase in perceived taste quality is in fact buying it under a false notion and is likely to be doing so simply because of a self-fulfilling prophecy based on their preconceived notions about organic food.
Organic Foods are not Safer
A majority of people buy expensive organic food assuming that it is pesticide free, and therefore a safer alternative to foods grown using conventional methods of pest eradication. The truth is that a food can be classified as certified organic while having been treated with pesticides. The only difference is that the pesticide used on organic foods must be natural and not synthetic. There was for many years an assumption that a natural pesticide would pose less of a health risk and would cause less environmental damage than one of synthetic origins; however, this is not the case. A study conducted at the Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology Laboratory in the Department of Environmental Science at the University of California, Berkeley showed that Rotenone, a natural pesticide used on organic food products, induces Parkinson-like symptoms in rats and poses a major health risk to humans (Pierluigi et al. 1). Thankfully, this pesticide was discontinued in 2005, but it goes to show that simply because a pesticide is natural doesn’t necessarily mean that it is safe.
Furthermore, organic foods also pose major health risks due to the harmful pathogens that result from using natural fertilizers. It has been found that food products produced on organic farms have a 10% risk of being...