Are you healthier eating organic?
Since one of the protagonists in Sweet Salt Air (my coming book) is a die-hard locavore, I was naturally interested in this. Not that a locavore necessarily eats organic. By definition, a locavore buys and eats food that is locally produced – food produced by local farmers and sold in local markets – but since the trend among local farmers is for organics, I’ve connected the two.
So. Are you healthier if you eat organically grown food?
A recent study on this has gotten a lot of press. The first I heard of it was from Brian Williams, then I read a followup the next morning in the Boston Globe. The study done by researchers at Stanford University, found that the nutrients in organics are no better than the nutrients in non-organics.
If you stop reading there, you think, OMG, why am I spending all this extra money on organic food? If you read on, though, you see that these studies do show lesser amounts of pesticide residue and artificial hormones in organic foods. I had always assumed that the nutrients – organic vs. non-organic – were the same and that the matter of pesticides and hormones was the issue.
As a breast cancer survivor, I’m seriously concerned about the hormones in non-organic milk. Young girls are getting their periods earlier; studies have shown this. Studies have also shown a correlation between early puberty and a greater susceptibility to breast cancer. If the hormones in non-organic milk are bumping young girls’ estrogen levels higher sooner and, hence, causing them to get their periods sooner, I worry.
The bottom line? The headlines are misleading. Yes, if you’re worried about nutrition alone, the headlines relating to this recent study will resonate. If additives are your concern – i.e., the purity of the food you eat – you need to read the fine print.
Here’s another example of headlines that don’t say it all. Sheryl Crow was recently purported to have said that she believes her brain tumor came from cell phone use. At least, that was the headline. What she actually said (on ‘Katie” – I just watched a tape of it) was that while she knows science has not proven this one way or the other, she can’t rule out a connection between this benign tumor and her excessive use of early cell phones.
My point? Always read the whole article. Then think about it. Please.