Organic food healthier? Nutritionist explains what the media get wrong time and again

organic doritos
Credit: The Marketing Sage

For years, the organic versus conventional argument has fueled twitter wars, marketing schemes, and a hell of a lot of doubt in the minds of consumers.

Organic food is food that has been grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. It’s certified organic by the USDA or another regulatory body, depending on where you live.

In my experience, the two main reasons why people choose organic over conventional are:

  1. They believe that organic food is higher in nutrients and therefore healthier than conventional food. Also: GMOs are SCARY!
  1. They are concerned about the pesticides that are used on conventional crops, for both health and environmental reasons.
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Related article:  Burkina Faso cotton production plummets after phasing out insect resistant Bt GMO crop

Speaking about fear, some studies use that fact to try….to establish a link between eating organic and antioxidants and health.

For example, the media went nuts over the recent Nutrinet Sante study out of France, which appeared to conclude that organic food consumption is linked to a lower risk of cancer.

But like always, the media only told part of the story.

What the headlines [didn’t] say is that people who choose organic food tend to eat more fruits and vegetables overall, tend to be more active, and have different social determinants of health (like socioeconomic status, education, and access, for example) than people who eat conventionally-grown food. These determinants of health are significant predictors for the risk of disease that a person faces.

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