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Giving Compass' Take:
• The New Food Economy looks at a recent study out of the journal Environmental Research which claims that those who switch from conventional foods to organic foods consume fewer pesticides. The author argues that the results have been blown out of proportion and, while scientifically relevant, do not justify the argument that one should shop organic.
• If, as the author argues, this story does not conclusively say whether or not we should eat organic over conventional, what data can definitively answer that question? Based on the data available, is it reasonable for nutrition and health advocates to recommend that families spend more on organic foods?
• To learn about the danger of wind-blown pesticides across the U.S., click here.
A new study published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Research reveals that people who switched from a conventional to an organic diet reduced their intake of pesticides by 60 percent in just one week.
Well, that’s it. Game over. The evidence is all in, and organic wins.
Basically, the Environmental Research study took people who had been eating food that was likely to contain traces of certain common pesticides, then fed them food that by law was supposed to be grown without the use of those particular pesticides. And they discovered that their test subjects were indeed consuming less of those particular pesticides. It’s kind of like taking a bunch of people who’ve been drinking, wresting away their booze, then testing to see if their blood alcohol drops. It might be scientifically useful, but it doesn’t merit the kind of press campaign that [has been waged] for it.
You might in fact be persuaded by the study results. That’s fine. But let’s be clear about some of the things the study may seem to prove but doesn’t.
First, it doesn’t prove that organic food is lower in pesticide residues than conventional food. (In any case, we already knew that.) It just shows organic eaters take in fewer of the 40 pesticides measured by the researchers.
And it doesn’t show that organic food is safer ... The fact is that there’s no way you can reduce your exposure to toxins to zero. The world’s a messy place. Chemicals drift from field to field, equipment and storage facilities get contaminated, and some people inevitably cheat and use products they’re not supposed to use. And plants themselves produce toxins. The trick is to keep your exposure to a safe level.
Read the full article about organic foods by Patrick Clinton at The New Food Economy.