No nutritional difference

Organic food may be tastier, may make people ‘feel’ better, but according to the Foods Standards Agency, there is little, if any, nutritional difference between organic and conventionally-produced food and that there is no evidence of additional health benefits from eating organic food.

The report is based on an analysis of 50 years of research into organic food. This latest study was carried out for the FSA by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and involved analysing over 50,000 studies on the nutritional value of foods published since 1958.

A small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally-produced crops and livestock but these are considered unlikely to be of any significance to public health.

Both types of fruit and vegetables were comparable when it came to levels of vitamin C, calcium, iron and fatty acids.
Conventionally-produced fruit and veg had more nitrogen, but organically-produced fruit and veg had more phosphorus. It was a similar story with meat, eggs and dairy products.

The researchers believe, however, that the differences are small and unimportant.

The organic food industry has been enjoying steady growth in recent years, with many people believing organically-grown produce to be more healthy and being willing to pay extra, quite significantly in some cases, for such produce.

The study, however, does only focus on nutrition and measurable values and does not take into account taste, the possible side-effects of chemical fertilisers and other factors. The organic versus conventional debate is far from one-sided and will no doubt continue for many years. Maybe another report in five years time will come to a totally different conclusion, who knows?

In the meantime, if the nutritional values are equal, it boils down to ‘taste’ and personal feelings about the use of copious amounts of potentially harmful pesticides and the presence of a huge list of E numbers and additives on food labels.

One would have thought that, in the great scheme of things, it would ultimately be more ‘healthy’ to eat produce which has not been injected or covered with artificial chemicals and man-made additives. Bearing in mind that Thalidomide was initially deemed safe and was used worldwide for four years before being withdrawn….

At least, for the time being anyway, we have the ability to choose what we eat.

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