Organic Food Nutrition: Myths vs. Facts

The benefits of organic food nutrition have been widely debated in recent years as the push to “eat organic” gains momentum. With so much data floating around, it can be difficult to determine the facts from the myths when it comes to the actual nutritional differentiators between conventionally farmed and organic foods. Here is a look at some of the most common organic food myths and the facts to disprove them.

Organic Food & the Environment

One large myth surrounding organic farming is that it is better for the environment. Though organic farming doesn’t contaminate the groundwater and soil with chemicals and pesticides at the high rate that conventional farming does, it is actually less productive. What this means is that it takes twice as much land to produce the same amount of food in an organic farming model compared to a conventionally farmed one. If the world switched to solely organic farming, nearly 10 million square miles of wildlife habitats would have to be cut down to allow for the same production.

Organic Food & Your Health

Organic food has perpetuated the myth that it is a healthier choice than conventionally farmed products. However, studies have shown that there is no added nutritional value to eating organic. In fact, the research has been flip-flopping for years as one study finds that particular conventionally farmed crops have the edge, while another finds that organically farmed produce does. Studies have not been able to prove that one is actually better for you than the other and have concluded that the nutritional value of produce is most closely tied with how long it sits on a shelf.

Many people also falsely believe the myth that because it is organic, it doesn’t need to be washed. This too is very untrue as well. All produce is susceptible to bacteria such as E. coli and should be thoroughly cleaned before eating it whether it is organic or not.

A lot of people eat organic because they say that it tastes better. However, in test after test, participants have never been successful in selecting which products are organically grown or not, leaving the conclusion that there is no taste differentiator between the two.

Organic Food & Small Business

A growing myth in the marketplace is that organic is associated with small farms and local producers. With such a boom in the market, many of the top organic producers today are actually the same large multinational companies that lead the conventional farming market as well. With such a high demand for these products, giant companies are in on making the money from these products and have been importing organic ingredients as cheap as they possibly can, many times from other countries. With so much CO2 used for transport, the eco-friendliness of these organic products is questioned often.

The myths surrounding organic products are in place in many cases to help sell the organic products. Use the facts to make your own decision as to whether you want to consume organic products based on the facts, and feel good about your diet.

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Posts By Sequoia
  • Honest Organic

    Great information!

    Most people have no idea of the massive amounts of waste in organic farming. Much of the crops never make it to market due to insect damage, disease, lack of proper fertilizer and poor quality.

    The biggest myth of all is the idea that organic farmers don’t use toxic pesticides. This well guarded secret is one of the most important keys to getting people to buy organic produce.

  • OrganicTrade

    The Organic Trade Association (OTA) would like to correct some misinformation in this blog.

    First, OTA would like to point out that research has shown that organic yields are equal or greater than their conventional counterparts, and that organic farming organic offers a sustainable solution that addresses the world’s hunger problems and the long-term health of the planet. A United Nations report—Organic Agriculture and Food Security in Africa—released in October 2008 found organic farming offers African and other developing countries the most hope for feeding their people. Findings by the U.N. Environment Programme showed that organic practices raise yields, improve the soil, and boost the income of developing countries’ small farmers. Similarly, the Long-term Agro-ecological Research (LTAR) initiative at Iowa State University’s Neely-Kinyon Farm found yields equal or greater than conventional counterparts for organic corn, soybeans and oats. Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Michigan found that organic farming can yield up to three times as much food as conventional farming on the same amount of land in developing countries.

    OTA would also like to point out that there is mounting evidence that organically grown fruits, vegetables and grains may offer more of some nutrients, including vitamin C, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, and less exposure to nitrates and pesticide residues than their counterparts grown using synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. See http://www.ota.com/organic/benefits/nutrition.html for a list of studies affirming these findings.

    Finally, OTA would like to make clear that organic processors and handlers with more than $5,000 in annual organic sales are held to the exact same set of standards. Set forth by the National Organic Program, these standards outline different categories of organic products. Regardless of the size of operation, products bearing labels referencing these categories must comply with the government-regulated definitions of them. For more information on this and other issues related to organic, please visit http://www.ota.com.