Food \ Healthy Skeptic

Are Organic Foods Better for You?

"I buy organic fruits and vegetables because I worry about pesticides and i want to make sure they get the best food in their bodies."

Many Americans don't seem to mind paying extra for organic food. In fact, nearly 40 percent say they opt for organic at least occasionally. The higher price may be a good investment for the environment, but is it buying us better health? The answer, it turns out, is a bit thorny.

Under federal law, fruits and vegetables can be labeled organic if they're grown without conventional pesticides or petroleum-based fertilizers.

As a result, organic foods contain fewer chemical residues. But it's unclear whether this really makes the food more healthful, since pesticide levels in regular produce have not been proven to pose a health risk to humans.

Another claim is that organic produce is more nutritious than the conventional kind.

The evidence for this is mixed, with most studies finding no advantage for organic.

Then there's the notion that organic produce is less likely to be contaminated with bacteria like E.coli. In this case, the answer is clear: Not true.

What about meat and dairy products labeled organic?

This means they came from animals that were not given growth hormones or antibiotics.

Though some research suggests that hormones in food could be contributing to certain cancers and early puberty, it's a matter of scientific debate.

There's greater agreement that antibiotics in the food supply may help spawn so-called superbugs that infect us and are resistant to treatment.

As for organic packaged foods, keep in mind that these can legally contain non-organic ingredients. Plus, just because things like cookies, chips, and crackers are organic, doesn't necessarily mean they're healthful.

In the end, it comes down to weighing the pros and cons for yourself. If you prefer organic foods and can afford them, great. If not, don't worry that you're somehow endangering your health. The most important thing is to eat a healthful diet, including lots of fruits and vegetables, regardless of how they're grown.

This entry last modified on: August 30, 2014 2:11 PM

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About the Video

Are organic foods safer and more nutritious? Our healthy skeptic cuts through the hype to reveal the truth about how organic foods affect your health.


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