Uproar over study on organic food

Uproar over study on organic food
August 06, 2009

For years, healthful-food advocates have said organic food is more nutritious than conventionally grown.

But that claim — trumpeted on the Web sites of organizations ranging from the national Organic Trade Association to the Seattle-based PCC Natural Markets — is being challenged by a comprehensive new study released last week.

Now the healthful-eating crowd is up in arms. Not only did researchers reach the wrong conclusion, advocates say, they didn't even ask the right questions. Such as: Why, exactly, do people buy organic?

Many advocates say it's not so much about what's in the food;it's about what isn't.

"There's a larger reason to buy organic food, and nutrition is just one piece of it,"said Laura Niemi of Seattle Tilth Association.

The main problem with the study, critics say, is that nutrition is only a small part of organic's appeal. The researchers did not examine, for example, what effect chemical fertilizers and pesticides — used in growing conventional crops — have on consumers. Nor did they look at the environmental effects of each growing method.