Are organic products healthier than non-organic products?

Several studies have revealed that there is no difference in nutritional value between organically and conventionally grown foods. Stanford researchers analyzed nearly 250 studies and concluded that “there isn't much difference between organic and conventional foods. There isn't enough evidence to say that organic foods are more or less nutritious than non-organic foods. Foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, eggs, lean meats, and dairy products are nutritious, whether they are organically grown or not.

Organic foods are regulated by the federal government under the Organic Products Regulation and must comply with the Canadian Organic Standards (COS). Following their example with guilt, I can't help but wonder if organic food has as much of an impact on my family's health as it does on my wallet. Usually, the word “natural” on a food label means that the product has no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Organic chicken and pork were also about one-third less likely to contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria than conventionally raised chicken and pork.

These organic foods may be worth buying, while the “Clean 15,” which are the lowest in pesticides, might not justify the extra cost. The label could indicate that a product is organic, but the product could also be high in sugar, fat, calories and sodium. According to Health Canada, there is no evidence to show that it is safer to eat organic foods instead of conventionally grown foods due to pesticide residues. They proclaim, “I only buy organic products” with the same pride they feel when they announce that their son has been added to the honor list.

Organic products had a slight advantage in terms of food safety, with 30% less pesticide residues than conventional foods. To investigate these statements, researchers at Stanford University evaluated almost 250 studies in which the nutrients in organic products were compared with some data showing the possible health benefits of organic foods compared to foods grown using the usual (conventional) process. In general, the levels of pesticides in organic and non-organic foods were within the permitted safety limits. While the study reveals that organic products have some safety advantages over conventional foods, from a nutritional point of view they have little more to offer.

However, it should at least alleviate some of the guilt that many of us feel when we direct our shopping cart around the topic of organic products.

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