Is Organic Food Healthier?

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen the headlines about the recent Stanford University study on organic food. Even the New York Times and NPR declared “Expensive Organic Food No Healthier, Study Finds!” But how credible is this study?

The research they’re talking about is not a new study. Rather, it looks at the results from previous studies on the nutrient content in organic food. The problem with the way the researchers presented their results is that it grossly oversimplifies what makes food “healthy.”

After analyzing around 200 studies on organic food’s nutrient content, the researchers found that organic meat and produce did have an equivalent nutrient content – so that organic kale probably has around the same amount of iron as conventional kale. What the study failed to take into account are two important health factors associated with organics: the impact of long-term exposure to pesticide residues on food and the indirect health impacts of conventional farming.

On the next page, read about where the study fell short, and tell us your thoughts on this research!

pesticides food safety

Organics and Health: It’s About the Pesticides

The Stanford study completely dismisses the health impacts of pesticide residues on conventional produce, even though the researchers themselves admit that organics tend to have around 30 percent lower pesticide levels than conventional produce. That is nothing to sneeze at.

There have been no long-term studies on pesticide residues and their effects on human health, but the pesticides we spray on our food are definitely questionable from a health standpoint. Atrazine, for example, is a known endocrine disruptor and carcinogen. I’ll gladly shell out the extra bucks for kale that has the same iron content as conventional but 30 percent less atrazine residue!

In fact, the fact that we don’t know how these toxins affect our bodies long-term is all the more reason to avoid them.

Indirect Public Health Impacts of Conventional Farming

Conventional produce’s health impacts don’t start at your dinner plate. Farm workers are among the people at highest risk for pesticide poisoning because of conventional farming’s heavy reliance on chemical pesticides.

You also have to consider pesticide runoff. You spray pesticides onto plants, but that doesn’t mean they stay there. When it rains or when farmers water their crops, the water washes some of that pesticide residue away, where it eventually makes its way into rivers and streams, polluting our waterways and harming wildlife and fragile ecosystems. That pollution finds its way up the food chain and eventually ends up in our bodies, too, whether we choose organic or not.

Yes, if we’re comparing only nutrient content, organics and conventional produce may be comparable, but when you take a hard look at conventional farming and conventional produce, it still doesn’t measure up.

Have you been reading about the Stanford study? Have you changed your shopping habits since it came out? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Organic Farming vs. Industrial Agriculture: Which Method Wins?
15 Reasons to Eat Organic Food
What’s In Your Chemical Cocktail?

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago

Yes, it is best I believe

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you :)

Amber Martingale
Angela Roquemore3 years ago

I'm going to keep on eating what I can financially afford on less than $200-worth of food stamps.

Azle B.
Azle B.3 years ago

organic food shines in a special category that conventional agriculture does not even participate. Organic farmers and gardeners use leaves that contain trace elemnts from deep in the earth and this adds them to your food. Trace elements are important to provide the enzymes that we need to utilize our foood.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia3 years ago

I think about it like this, we have polluted the land, the air and the water, so even organic foods have toxic chemicals, but there is a good chance that the organic food aren't as bad since they aren't covered in chemicals as well.

Julie D.
Julie D.3 years ago

The study wasn't about pesticides it was about whether ther is more nutrient value in organic foods. On that account there is not any difference. The problem being that the pesticides on unorganic fare are harmful which presents another problem that was not addressed by the study.

Mara Comitas
Mara Comitas3 years ago

I believe that organic foods are healthier due to the lack of toxic chemicals. Thank you!

Doug G.
Doug G.3 years ago

What is believable these days? When it comes to profit what won't they do or say to get more, since money has become the god of this nation. I am not confident in the scientific community either. Ever watch the debate whether coffee is good or bad for your health? the debate continues because the scienfic communty doesn't know for sure either. The same is true about GMO and pharmaceutical drugs and myriad of other products.
I would like to think if I buy" Organic" it is free of pesticide/herbicides and synthetic chemicals of which science has little knowledge of their repective interactions in the environment. I maybe deluded since I do live in this age of misinformation, motivated by bias and sheer greed that are unfortunately hallmarks of living in this day and age, but one has to feel hopeful that ones own actions aren't shafting the rest of creation while trying to survive.
Frankly, I see nothing wrong with the food nature has provided this and all other species over the milennia but I don't trust my fellow human beings and their tamperings which always seem to cause problems down the line.

Lourdes Acevedo
Lourdes Acevedo3 years ago

thanks for sharing!

John S.
Past Member 3 years ago

I've also read the article that say many things labelled organic are not, and am pretty confident that they would not be healthier than those not labeled. Maybe they need to study that. Would be a useful study if that is what it leads to.