- THE MAGAZINE
- FOOD MASTER
A new study from the UK’s The Organic Center is claiming researchers have found evidence that organic crops, and food made from them, are nutritionally superior to alternatives.
“This is a ground-breaking study,” says Jessica Shade, director of science programs for the center. “This important research should help greatly to dispel consumer confusion about the benefits of organic.”
Shade says the center revisited the conventional vs organic debate by developing a more inclusive and statistically accurate study.
By looking at 343 different studies, the team of researchers led by Newcastle University found organic crops and crop-based foods contain up to 60 percent more antioxidants than conventional foods which would provide a larger health benefit for approximately the same caloric intake.
The researchers also found traditional crops carry up to four times more instances of pesticide residues and levels of toxic metal than organic crops.
Specifically, researchers say organic crops have, on average, 48 percent lower cadmium levels than conventional crops. Cadmium is a highly toxic metal that can cause kidney failure, bone softening and liver damage.
“The findings of this study strongly support the existence of health benefits stemming from consumption of plant-based organic food and beverages,” says Charles Benbrook, author of the study and a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University. “Our results are highly relevant and significant, and will help consumers sort through the often conflicting information on the nutrition of organic and conventional plant-based foods.”
In 2012, Stanford University released a study finding that organic foods were no healthier than conventional crops. However, Shade says the Newcastle study succeeded in proving greater nutrition where others previously failed because of the increased amount of available research on organic crops.
A recent survey by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) found eight out of 10 US families now purchase organic products. In nearly half of those families, concern about their children’s health is a driving force behind that decision.
“Parents are becoming more informed about the benefits of organic,” says Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of OTA. “This study will educate consumers even more and help them make the best choices for their families.”