Headlines do it again… Is Organic food really not nutritionally better than conventional?

Headlines do it again… Is Organic food really not nutritionally better than conventional?

Reading news headlines is a lot like trying to figure out the weather by solely observing the clouds.  On occasion, what you see is what you get, but usually, the clouds at best only give you a partial idea as to what the weather may or may not have in store for you.

The recent headlines (http://news.yahoo.com/organic-food-no-healthier-non-organic-study-210536314.html) about organic versus conventional foods are similar. They do point to some important things, but the first impression you get looking at them belays the reality.

So, are organic food and conventional foods basically the same, save a few less toxic, disease causing chemicals?

As one of the articles admits, it all depends on how you define organics.

“Many of the studies didn’t specify their standards for what constituted “organic” food.”

Whoa doggy! Stop. Right. Here.

So, you are building huge, attention grabbing, view point pounding headlines based on…  a bunch of inconsistent, unanalyzed, faulty studies that contain all sorts of problematic assumptions and setups?

You treat all these studies of equal weight and worth… even when they are CLEARLY NOT of equal weight and worth?

Yet another article spins the study of studies this way,

The Stanford team combed through thousands of studies to analyze the 237 that most rigorously compared organic and conventional foods. Bravata was dismayed that just 17 compared how people fared eating either diet while the rest investigated properties of the foods themselves.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/09/04/study-finds-organic-food-is-no-better-on-vitamins-nutrients/#ixzz25UyHOHFt

Wait, so was it rigorous studies or not?  Seems even the media is confused by the study of studies…

NPR this morning did the same “lets talk about the results of a study of non-studies…”

“Buellar. Buellar. Buellar.”

You have got to be kidding me.

Really? Does anyone else see the insanity of the modern media and its love of absolutely unsubstantiated headline claims, devoid of anyone actually READING THE STUDIES, evaluating the procedures and the results and seeing if they line up at all?

Or even worse, the inanity of what is called science and research in modern America?

Now for some facts

Earlier I did say that these headlines do point to a few important truths. So let’s unpack them.

  1. First, organic is a thing of the past.

Yes, you heard me say it. Organic is dead.


I am glad for it.


It is almost completely corrupted.


What once was the great hope for the future of American agriculture is now the prostitute of big agriculture.


Organic used to be the bright shining star of nutrient dense, local, compost based, sustainable, mineral rich farming.


Now it is industrial ag lite- industrial ag without some of the worst of the toxic chemicals and fertilizers.


“Organic chickens,” confined in gigantic houses with guys in hazmat suits walking around, because a sneeze could kill 2k birds in .3 seconds.


Vast organic mono-cultures of lettuces or carrots or whatever.


This isn’t organic. This is an abomination.


  1. Nutrient density depends not on some 3rd party label, but actual farming practices!


I know. Go figure. What determines whether or not a food is really healthier or more nutritious than another is not a government or other certifying agency label, but the actual practices used on the farm that produced the food!


Gasp! Cringe!


Hence why the motto “know your farmer” is so crucial.


Two farms can produce the same crops and animals with radically different organic approved methods, and that is what will really determine the nutrient density of the food.


For instance, talk two egg farmers. One buys plain old organic feed, with no mineral added to the feed, and keeps the chickens in a small field with little to no forage.


Another uses organic feed, sprouts some of the grains, raises bugs and worms, and adds mineral to his feed like oyster shell, nutria-balancer, and more.


Are these eggs going to be the same?


Wonder which farmer’s eggs ended up in these studies.


Methods are what matter in farming, not certificates and certifications and blah blah blah.


  1. Truly “organic” foods are almost 100% guaranteed to be more nutrient dense than conventional foods.


This is not an overstatement.


Every well-designed study done on this topic has shown it to be true in one area of nutrition or another  – minerals, vitamins, anti-oxidants, and more.


The mother Earth News egg reports show this (sorry, if the chickens are not pastured, they are not organic).


Rodale has shown this with numerous studies.  Eatwild.org has a number of studies posted on their site that show this.


Even NPR conceded that one major, long term study underway right now has shown GIGANTIC increases in antioxidant content of organically raised foods versus conventional.


But until the media stops conflating industrial organic with real organic, they merely help to further serve the big ag players who have always wanted to fold the organic movement into their GMO, chemical, mechanical, extractive, destructive system of food and farming.


  1. Organic is about more than just nutrient density…


It is also about water/soil/microbe conservation and proliferation, ever increasing cost of transit and chemical based farming, and more. While the nutrient density of food is an important part, the real reason to look for truly organic foods are far greater than a few percentage points of nutrient difference.


REsilence to drought, pests, and all sorts of other problems, and ability to farm with less or without petro-chemicals, replenishing topsoil, and more, all come from truly organic farming.


  1. Industrial organic foods are a crock, sham, and scam!


Yes indeed, many industrial organic foods provide little to no nutritional benefit over conventional.


Why? Because they are raised almost identically, except without the toxic pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals.


Let me say it again, if the way food and animals are raised determines their nutrient density, and industrial organic foods are basically raised identically to conventional foods, then we should not be surprised that there is no nutritional difference between the two.


Conclusion – don’t get caught or fooled into paying high prices for pseudo organic foods, especially processed pseudo organic foods like boxed breakfast cereals and all sorts of other fake foods!


What matters is not what label is on the food, but how the food was actually raised.


Now, for some foods, organic is the best you can get (bananas for instance, unless, like me, you have an amish neighbor with a gigantic greenhouse).


But we need to move beyond organic, beyond the corporate heist of what once was a bright future for the health of America’s farms and families, to something even better.



5 Reader Comments

  1. Caroline Cooper on

    It appears as soon as we elevate someone or some organization to “oversee” regulations or standards, we somehow start the fall of the system. As soon as “power” gets concentrated in the hands of the few you will quickly see corruption of the once great system. When there is lots of money involved, corruption happens faster. I think this happened to many organic certification systems.

    Know your farmer and learn about your farmer’s practices is the best advice. Everyone can grow at least some of their own food, and should do so. By doing so, we are less ignorant about gardening and farming practices. Through the process of growing our own food we gain an appreciation of the work involved and the value of food. In the coming days, being able to grow food might become a very valuable skill.

  2. gina on

    Yes, know your farmer. Cause it shouldn’t take a study to tell any thinking person that synthetic chemical pesticides and petrochemical fertilizers are unnaturally toxic. But even worse, too many people don’t understand that 90% of non-organic American corn and soy is genetically modified–grown with completely unnaturally experimental DNA. Yes, agriculture has been hijacked. And the big myth is that organic costs more. But food raised naturally without pesticides costs less if you shop wisely–or directly through natural farmers.

  3. Mike F on

    Caroline Cooper,

    This is why it is so important to reduce subsidies and then follow closely with reduced regulations. It is the subsides that keep big AG rich and regulations that keep small farms from being competitive.

    Once sweeping regulations are set in place the game is no longer called capitalism but cronyism because no one regulates the regulators. The only people who hate the free market more than liberals & socialists are mega-corporations who fear competition.

  4. Thoughts on the News: Organic Isn’t Healthier Than Conventional | Grasshoppers Distribution on

    […] weren’t some magical bastion of extreme nutrition? As a well-thought and written article by Food Clubs and Co-ops states,“Nutrient density depends not on some 3rd party label, but actual farming […]

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    […] Headlines do it again… Is Organic food really not nutritionally better than conventional? […]

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