Organic Food Not Nutritionally Better Than Conventionally-pr

Discussion in 'General chat' started by spiraleddie, Jul 30, 2009.

  1. spiraleddie

    spiraleddie Junior Member

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    A bit of food for thought. Of course the benefits of organic food extends beyond nutrition.
    I added the bold font.
    ScienceDaily (July 30, 2009) — There is no evidence that organically produced foods are nutritionally superior to conventionally produced foodstuffs, according to a study published July 29 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
    Consumers appear willing to pay higher prices for organic foods based on their perceived health and nutrition benefits, and the global organic food market was estimated in 2007 to be worth £29 billion (£2 billion in the UK alone). Some previous reviews have concluded that organically produced food has a superior nutrient composition to conventional food, but there has to-date been no systematic review of the available published literature.

    Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine have now completed the most extensive systematic review of the available published literature on nutrient content of organic food ever conducted. The review focussed on nutritional content and did not include a review of the content of contaminants or chemical residues in foods from different agricultural production regimens.
    Over 50,000 papers were searched, and a total of 162 relevant articles were identified that were published over a fifty-year period up to 29 February 2008 and compared the nutrient content of organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs. To ensure methodological rigour the quality of each article was assessed. To be graded as satisfactory quality, the studies had to provide information on the organic certification scheme from which the foodstuffs were derived, the cultivar of crop or breed of livestock analysed, the nutrient or other nutritionally relevant substance assessed, the laboratory analytical methods used, and the methods used for statistical analysis. 55 of the identified papers were of satisfactory quality, and analysis was conducted comparing the content in organically and conventionally produced foods of the 13 most commonly reported nutrient categories.

    The researchers found organically and conventionally produced foods to be comparable in their nutrient content. For 10 out of the 13 nutrient categories analysed, there were no significant differences between production methods in nutrient content. Differences that were detected were most likely to be due to differences in fertilizer use (nitrogen, phosphorus), and ripeness at harvest (acidity), and it is unlikely that consuming these nutrients at the levels reported in organic foods would provide any health benefit.

    Alan Dangour, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine's Nutrition and Public Health Intervention Research Unit, and one of the report's authors, comments: 'A small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs, but these are unlikely to be of any public health relevance. Our review indicates that there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organically over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority. Research in this area would benefit from greater scientific rigour and a better understanding of the various factors that determine the nutrient content of foodstuffs'.

    The study was commissioned and funded by the UK Food Standards Agency. The funder had no role in study design, data collection, analysis, interpretation or writing of the report. The review team held six progress meetings with the funder.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Journal reference:

    Alan D Dangour, Sakhi K Dodhia, Arabella Hayter, Elizabeth Allen, Karen Lock, Ricardo Uauy. Nutritional quality of organic foods: a systematic review. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 29, 2009 DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.28041
     
  2. permasculptor

    permasculptor Junior Member

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    Re: Organic Food Not Nutritionally Better Than Conventionally-pr

    from permasculptor's wifey, (ex nutritionist!)
    yes the benefits of organic extends beyond nutrition and "nutrition" probably extends well beyond the "13 most commonly reported nutrient categories". Its a real shame this abstract did not list which nutrients were analysed, which ones were left out. Science obviously is limited in its explorations by the tools that it has available, and the variables that it knows of to study. Unfortunately humans tend to be a bit arrogant (myself included) and many people believe that "we " or "science" knows most things, so the bits we actually know about (eg the 13 groups of nutrients) are a pretty good representation on the whole picture. Perhaps true, perhaps not. As this study was reflecting over a 50 year period, perhaps the more recently discovered nutrients were not included.

    The paper states "Our review indicates that there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organically over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority" thus inferring that the nutrients in their 13 groups represent the complete picture of "nutritional superiority". Or perhaps it just has not been studied properly yet. What excluded two thirds of the relevant papers?

    "A little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing".

    Its also a shame they are scant and ambiguous in their reporting of the results, eg the "differences that were detected were most likely due to....", were these in the statistically significant results of 3 nutrient groups, or the non significant differences in the 10 nutrient groups. What was the difference in the 3 statistically significant results, which method of farming produced a higher nutrient content? Oops did not think it was important to mention that despite it being the purpose of the review??!! Despite not telling us what the differences were, there is plenty of space given to hypothesising about what the cause of these differences were, though that was not the purpose of the review. So we are left feeling confused. Any lobbyists put their red pen over this one? Then they go on to say that the different levels were not likely to be beneficial, ha ha. Oh what a crazy world it is out there.

    It has been recognised in the last couple of decades that colour and taste can provide some indication of nutrient levels. Which production method produces better tasting and more strongly coloured food?

    And now for a bit of woo woo (or Eastern medical theory?) ... Fresh fruits and vegies are alive when we buy them. Does science understand what "life" is, not really, not completely. So most of science does not want to acknowledge the possibility of a "life force". Mmm I wonder which life force would be stronger, plants grown in "dead" soil, sprayed with chemicals, picked on a particular day perhaps before ripe, shipped for thousands of kilometres in a fridge, sat under fluoro lights, etc.... vs those in alive vibrant soil, teeming with organisms interacting, sprayed with water, organic matter perhaps, picked when ripe, if from your own garden! I sure know which one I will feel good about eating.
     
  3. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Re: Organic Food Not Nutritionally Better Than Conventionally-pr

    And they didn't measure "smug". I walked in from the garden this afternoon with 3 eggs, a pile of peas, some endive and baby beetroot leaves for tonight's salad, and I felt so damn right with the universe that smug is really the only word for it!

    It's all about what is normative. If "real" food was considered normal then the study would say that conventionally grown food offers no nutritional advantages over organic, but it comes at an environmental cost.... Now there's a different message from the same data!
     
  4. gbell

    gbell Junior Member

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    Re: Organic Food Not Nutritionally Better Than Conventionally-pr

    As a movement, we absolutely have to accept science. Not corporate funded/corrupted science, but real science with designed, controlled tests and peer review. We can't only embrace the scientific conclusions we like (eg. "science proves rock dust works, I buy that.") and reject those we don't. A comprehensive review of organic food nutrition shows no benefit over conventional. Fine.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm (still) a big fan of organic production and techniques. But let's not defensively resort to "life energy" or vortex talk trying to confuse the issue.

    In other words, lets not let our cognitive dissonance cloud the truth.

    Moving on, if there's no difference, I'm interested in why some studies have shown food grown 50 years ago was more nutritious... I had always assumed (and it was implied) that it was the growing methods.
     
  5. permasculptor

    permasculptor Junior Member

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    Re: Organic Food Not Nutritionally Better Than Conventionally-pr

    from wifey again. I agree as a movement we have to accept GOOD science, not "bluff science" and there are a lot of people being bluffed by so called "science". I cringe when I watch those nutrition shows on TV, as their reporting is often incomplete and usually gives quite a narrow and therefore biased view. I've worked in the field of nutrition for enough years to be aware of experts influencing review papers and policy development, who are also employed by major food companies. And I walked away in disgust, believing the truth was not being represented. The full review being discussed here may be well designed, well written and comprehensive, and most likely peer reviewed, and thus represent the true picture of the research to date, but the brief article here does not provide enough information to convince me that the conclusions drawn were valid. It does not even provide a clear picture of the results.
    To go from reading this article of a review to stating "A comprehensive review of organic food nutrition shows no benefit over conventional. Fine. " is not a logical jump for me. They studied part of the picture of nutrition, and hinted at the results in this article. I think we need to take more responsibility at being discerning readers.
     
  6. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    Re: Organic Food Not Nutritionally Better Than Conventionally-pr

    If it comes from U.S.A experts or any other so called experts im loathed to believe it at all....No matter how many grains of salt....either table salt or land salt..

    How on earth can an apple thats been gassed to lenthen its shelf life by a year,be more nutricious than one picked fresh from tree to mouth

    Tezza
     
  7. gbell

    gbell Junior Member

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    Re: Organic Food Not Nutritionally Better Than Conventionally-pr

    Anybody interested in digging through the actual study, its here (two parts, bottom of page):

    https://www.food.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/2009/jul/organic

    Looks pretty robust to me, though I'm not an expert. 162 different studies. I did notice that organic foods showed statistically significant higher levels of nutrients in many categories BEFORE the authors eliminated studies based on quality metrics. Interesting.

    Note that I (and probably other respondents to this thread, and the authors themselves) acknowledge many other benefits to organic food - soil, environment and farmer health, no pesticide residues, better flavour, more sustainability, etc. etc.
     
  8. pumpkin

    pumpkin Junior Member

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    Re: Organic Food Not Nutritionally Better Than Conventionally-pr

    If we are to accept the science - and scientistific studies can conflict - the lack of toxic chemicals in food is probably one of the major reasons people choose organic.

    In relation to this study - how much attention was paid to soil science, where did they source organic food - organic food can still be grown on depleted soil. Does the mineral content and general health of the soil make a difference in the nutrient content of the food? How would my home grown healthy soil grown vegies rate with those in a large scale organic farm?

    "Organic" can be used quite broadly and sometimes inappropriately.
     
  9. gbell

    gbell Junior Member

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    Re: Organic Food Not Nutritionally Better Than Conventionally-pr

    Its not "a study". You obviously haven't read it (or my comments). Its a survey of over 162 studies, so I'd say the answer to your question is "over a wide range of soils".

    Here's a criticism from the "Soil Association".

    Though those numbers were thrown out by the researchers because the p-value was too high. In the case of Beta-carotene, the p-value was 0.18, which was greater than their cutoff of 0.05, indicating that it is probably a result of randomness, rather than significant.

    I'd say the paper is still 'winning'. :(
     
  10. Louigi55

    Louigi55 Junior Member

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    Re: Organic Food Not Nutritionally Better Than Conventionally-pr

    I'm new.
    this one caught my eye.
    I used to be a somewhat conventional grower.
    Then someone said insects attack sick plants and weeds are nature soil tenders.
    Opened my mind.
    I made very small changes and I have not used insecticides and fugicides for over 5 yeras and no herbicides for over 4.
    Saved a heaps of money.
    I gave away over $5K of sprays that i no longer used.
    Just the money saving has been enourmous.
    The crops are great.
    My cattle don't get the local maladies.
    No science?
    They might like a look at human blood under a microscope.
    You can see the paharma and agro toxins like fluorescent lights.
    Me, my plants, animals are healthier and my costs are less.
    Can't be science can it?
    We could go into that later but for the moment one should ponder the roots of the word science: I know not I think or believe.
    I wonder who paays these mercinaries?
     
  11. gbell

    gbell Junior Member

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    Re: Organic Food Not Nutritionally Better Than Conventionally-pr

    Louigi, your experience is 'anecdotal evidence' - it can't be accepted as proof no matter how interesting because its only one person's experience in an uncontrolled situation.

    For all we know, you personally FELT better when you stopped using the chemicals, and worked harder on your farm. Or, you used the money you saved to buy better fertilisers. Variables have to be controlled to understand exactly 'why'! If many things change, you can't be sure what caused it.

    That is science, and its not corporate controlled or whatever conspiracy or laziness we'd like to throw at it to dismiss it. And science shouldn't be rubbished by us permaculturalists if we want to learn more and our movement to grow in popularity.

    Also, the study had nothing to say about animal health, money saved, and the other benefits you mention. They only looked at nutritional content.

    The criticisms of the study/survey are getting more organised - Shane Heaton from the BFA was on Bush Telegraph and pointed out that:

    1) We've discovered many more nutrients that are extremely important (eg. antioxidants, lycopene, resveratol, etc.) that the study didn't/couldn't look at. So maybe those are much higher in organic food.

    2) The FSA who did the study has a history of rubbishing organics, so there may be some politics at work.

    3) A major study by the EU into organics vs. conventional was soon to be released, and Mr. Heaton alleges that the FSA intentionally hurried their results out the door without waiting. Apparently the early results of the EU study were favourable to organics.
     
  12. Louigi55

    Louigi55 Junior Member

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    Re: Organic Food Not Nutritionally Better Than Conventionally-pr

    That is a good reply gbell.
    The devil is in the detail.
    But the detail does not necessarily save my health or my finances.
    I natuuropathic haematology certain markers indicate certain normalities and abnormalities.
    In alopathic bood analysis certain markers idicate normalities, etc.
    Which one is sceince?
    Neither absolutely.
    But they are accepted as widely usable.
    In the real world results count.
    If I don't get results I run the risk of being out of business.
    I found out the reasoning behind sound biological farming and put it to work at a very primary level and had great success.
    Now lets look at accepted "science":
    I was advised to have some eye tests which came back with a very good report.
    When asked for another set the next year I asked for the names of the goop that they put in my eyes.
    These 2 drugs each have an active and a number of additives.
    The highly trained specialist assured me there was no problem at all.
    The MSDS of only the active in the first drug showed that although the manufacturer stated there was no carcinogenic affects, it had to be labelled as a carcinogen in the state of california.
    It caused severe pychological disorders.
    I'm a wog. I can be nuts without the help of a drug.
    It can cause distubance of iterocular pressure.
    And it is used as an aid to measure just that.
    Hmm
    Why bother?
    Might be good for business.
    That is the scientific part of the exercise: political science, which is the science of controlling people.
    There were more problems with just the very first item on the list, but these few were enough for me to respectfully decline the invitation.
    I believe and have been involved at low level in real science, but I am very suspect of scientific studies as depending on the parameters they can be made to say anything.
    I do know a little about soil biology and chemistry but I was just saying how I felt in the first post.
    I very much liked the info you put forward too, but I can't stand mercinery so called sceintists.
    I should say I have met honest scientists that I think are great.
     
  13. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Re: Organic Food Not Nutritionally Better Than Conventionally-pr

    Being higher or lower in one nutrient over another does not make a plant any more or less healthier. It just makes it higher or lower in that nutrient.

    As one smart gardener once said... The path a plant takes from seed to table determines its overall value. I think someone else also said... Life is a journey not a destination - which pretty much means the same thing.

    I'd be more interested in hearing how non-organic fruit and vegetables got to be so nutrient rich. How will OUR overall health be effected by the path the non-organic variety were forced to take ?
     
  14. Louigi55

    Louigi55 Junior Member

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    Re: Organic Food Not Nutritionally Better Than Conventionally-pr

    Hi Milifestyle
    I didn't know that non-organic foods were nutrient rich.
    My research inicates that they are usually imbalanced and sometimes toxic.
    I has been said that of all agricultural produce, organic and conventional, 20% of the organic is at the top of the list and 80% is at the bottom of the list.
    That is said to be because most organic produce is organic by neglect.
    I think our health is affected by all that we eat and how we eat it.
    Unsoaked beans and nuts are iodine displcers.
    Pasteurised milk has little, if any, available calcium as the enzyme responsible for calcium assimilation has been destroyed.
    Milk from cows fed on NPK salt fertilized food and pasture is linked to leaky gut syndrome which is eventaully diagnosed in its later stages as chrones disease.
    A couple of examples/points that might interest you are:
    In "Sea Energy Agriculture" an experiment was done using diluted seawater as the main nutrient with a little nitrogen added.
    Grains produced produced more bushels than the control.
    The bushels were heavier.
    Chickens grown on the grain were more even in growth, much more healty, had no losses and matured earlier on less grain.
    The experiment was not termed organic but It fits into my criteria for learning about all things healthy.
    Selenium, which is no being accepted as a cancer and Barium remediator, is, from memory, 3 to 5 times more bioavailable if taken in organic form as selenometionine found in garlic, onions, etc.
    However NPK grown garlic has been reported to do more harm than good.
    Living food is a complete capsule that supplies the nutrients we need with enzymes,etc. needed to assimilate them.
    i hope to soon have little reliance on food that I don't have a complete knowledge how it was grown.
    I hope the info helps.
    Blessings
     
  15. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Re: Organic Food Not Nutritionally Better Than Conventionally-pr

    So any research is probably flawed. How can we tell if Organic is more or less nutritious if 80% is Organic by neglect ?
     
  16. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    Re: Organic Food Not Nutritionally Better Than Conventionally-pr

    I think something that gets missed in a lot of organic vs non-organic discussion is that basically if you eat a crap diet it doesn't really matter. A diet made up of conventionally grown, unprocessed, whole foods is going to be better nutritionally than one made up of crisps, coke and TV dinners. I would postulate that it would be a far greater difference than that which exists between organic and non-organic. So the argument is pretty moot on most levels of society if it comes down to just a nutritional one... I mean I understand that the advocates for organic (of which I am one) want to get one over the non-organic fraternity scientifically speaking, but the nutritional debate is really one of the lesser points to score from my perspective. The social and environmental ones seem more important to me. Unless of course we get to a point where everyone is eating a non-processed, whole food diet and the only barrier to human nutrition is the one between organic and not...

    Something else to consider when talking about nutrition is that there is a theory similar to the placebo effect that happens when we eat. It is a psychological effect on the way our body digests the food we eat...

    The way we think about our food effects the way our bodies deal with it. So if you have a fear of 'conventionally' grown food, that it is really bad for you and that it will poison you then your body takes notice of this mind set and goes about treating it as a poison - often this means that the liver siphons it off and wraps it in fatty tissue to deal with later. Conversely if you think it is fine then you body assumes it is and deals with it. So everything I said above may be moot also :D

    I think the key is to enjoy your food, appreciate it, in moderation. Make food a process that the family can enjoy and enjoy together. Return it to a part of your culture and don't think too much about it's nutritional value

    Grahame
     
  17. dymonite

    dymonite Junior Member

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    Re: Organic Food Not Nutritionally Better Than Conventionally-pr

    How does a plant 'know' where it is getting its nutrients whether it is directly from inorganic fertiliser or the slow breakdown of organic fertiliser. It is only the end product which is available or useful to the plant.

    What is the available research on nutrient content hydroponics which uses a pure nutrient solution compared to soil based horticulture? Not a lot that I have found?

    What's to say that you can't take a middle of the road approach and achieve a superior product with minimal degradation of land with organic methods coupled with judicious use of inorganic inputs at appropriate times? I have seen studies where this farms have been doing this in India with no land degradation after 40 years of this practice.

    The argument on whether plants have more or less nutrients is separate to that of long term soil health, sustainability and toxic sprays. The organic argument should emphasise the latter rather than the former. Long distance transport and storage probably have more influence on nutrient content than how the food was grown. That is an argument against this practice, not against conventional farming.

    How is it that the majority of the Western world consume conventionally grown produce and have better health indices than anywhere else in the world.

    Biological systems still thrive even in the most trying or artificial circumstances.

    Lastly Murphy's law in biology

    "Under the most carefully controlled conditions of temperature, pressure, osmolarity and pH, the organism will do what it damned well pleases."
     
  18. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    Re: Organic Food Not Nutritionally Better Than Conventionally-pr

    too much science and not enough intuition - I know what I know to be right and I know that science could prove me wrong. It doesn't make me wrong - at least not in my eyes.
     
  19. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Re: Organic Food Not Nutritionally Better Than Conventionally-pr

    Well said
     
  20. permasculptor

    permasculptor Junior Member

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    Re: Organic Food Not Nutritionally Better Than Conventionally-pr

    Can anyone tell me why a refractometer/Brix meter is not a good indicator of nutritional quality.This thread reeks of corporatism in my observation.I don't understand how a study of studies can be presented as proof of anything other than manipulation and a way to present the media with a bold inaccurate title. taste buds are more useful than a bag full of misguided scientists.
     

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