Organic Food: Not Better for You, Not Better for the Planet

Despite assumptions that organic food is more nutritional and a more sustainable way of farming, recent studies cast doubt on whether organic is the best solution in every case. 

What's the Latest Development?


Two recently published meta studies cast doubt on claims about the benefits of organic food which many assume to be true. After analyzing 237 different studies on the nutritional benefits of organic food, Crystal Smith-Spangler of Stanford University has found that while conventional foods contain more pesticides, they remain within permitted limits. The second study, conducted at the University of Oxford, found that "organic farms were less polluting for a given area of land, but were often more polluting per unit of food produced."

What's the Big Idea?

The two most commonly held beliefs about organic food is that it is more nutritious and better for the planet than conventional food. Both beliefs stem from the fact that farmers of organic food use fewer chemicals in the growing process. But "an 'organic' label is not a straightforward guarantee of the most environmentally friendly product," says Hanna Tuomisto of the University of Oxford. When it comes to improving crop yield while maintaining sustainability, a combination of growing techniques may prove the most beneficial. 

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