Organic Eating: Swallowing The Hype?

A new study suggests "organic" doesn't necessarily mean "healthier."

The popularity of organic food and drinks has skyrocketed, growing from $1 billion in U.S. sales in 1990 to nearly $30 billion last year.

Dr. Crystal Smith-Spangler and colleagues at Stanford University compiled data from more than 200 studies of organic versus conventionally grown food.

"We thought we'd find more differences than we actually found," Dr. Smith-Spangler says.

What they found was that the two groups were virtually the same in vitamin content, and although the organic foods had less pesticide residue all of the produce studied had pesticide levels that fell below federally-set safety limits.

"What we've gotten from this is good, solid evidence that organic produce is not necessarily superior in terms of safety or nutrition," says UH Case Medical Center clinical dietitian Lisa Cimperman. 

There was no difference in the protein or fat contents of organic and conventional milk, although some studies suggested organic milk may have higher levels of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.

While taste differences and environmental concerns about synthetic pesticides may continue to prompt many to go organic, cheaper conventional food may be just as healthy.

Erika Edwards reports

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