Reducing the significance of organic food to its “healthiness” is like reducing politics to a matter of “truthiness.” The recent Stanford University study (September 4, Annals of Internal Medicine) on organic food offered no new research and ignored some of what is already out there.
Organic actually is healthier, because it is about public health: the health of farmworkers, as well as the health of the soil and water and the complex community of creatures supported there. Those positive impacts have been proven and offer strong reasons for support of organic; none of those impacts has been disproven. Organic is about WE, not about ME.
As defined in the legislation that established the National Organic Program, organic is a production system: “A production system that is managed in accordance with the Act and regulations in this part to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.”
A useful comment, “Organic Food Isn’t More Nutritious, But That Isn’t the Point,” by Brian Fung in the Atlantic, was published Sept. 4, 2012: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/09/organic-food-isnt-more-nutritious-but-that-isnt-the-point/261929/. An excellent and more thorough refutation of the conclusions of the Stanford study appears in “The Devil in the Details,” by Chuck Benbrook, a leading organic researcher and current a professor of agriculture at Washington State University: http://organicfarms.wsu.edu/blog/devil-in-the-details. Benbrook’s article also provides a link to his more technical critique of the study and what it left out.
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