Are Organic Foods a Waste of Money?

A Stanford study, coincidentally timed with the opening of an organic foods store in Eagle Rock, concludes that conventional foods are just as nutritious and healthful.

The health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables are well known. But which are better—organic fruits and vegetables or conventional ones?

According to a study conducted by the Center for Health Policy at Stanford University and published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, there’s no compelling evidence that organic foods are more nutritious or that they help reduce health risks, even though they may contain relatively fewer traces of pesticides and antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Sounds counterintuitive? Even the study’s senior author, Dena Bravata, started her research thinking that “there would likely be some findings that would support the superiority of organics over conventional food,” according to an article in the New York Times. “I think we were definitely surprised.”

Click here to read an article about the study published by the Stanford School of Medicine.

The Stanford study is based on a so-called meta-analysis of 237 studies of organic and conventional foods conducted over 40 years. Published just four days after Organix, a long-anticipated organic foods store opened in Eagle Rock, the study is bound to hit a nerve with organics advocates, including, it seems, the Los Angeles Times. The paper’s lead editorial on Wednesday makes a case for organic food, arguing that the Stanford study is mostly remarkable for what it omitted.

Naysayers, on the other hand, will probably find that the Stanford study confirms their suspicions that the benefits of organic foods are hyped—and that the stuff itself is way too pricey.

What do you think? What has your own experience been with organic—or conventional—food? Share your views and/or convictions in the comments section below.

John Wayne's Honda September 05, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Yea because eating GMO's has to be good for you right?
Nelson R Grande II September 05, 2012 at 05:52 PM
The fact that they contain fewer traces of pesticides and antibiotic resistant bacteria is enough for me. Many think those traces are innocuous. But I'd rather pay a dollar to two more for piece of mind. Lots of Trader Joes' and Fresh and Easy's food is organic and, while possibly only in my own mind, is much more fresh tasting.
John Wayne's Honda September 05, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Wouldn't be surprised if Monsanto just donated a new wing to Stanford
Marcus September 05, 2012 at 06:39 PM
I wouldn't be surprised. This is all to do with Prop 37, which demands that GMO produce be clearly labelled. Whether you agree or not, the Prop 37, allows customers to choose what produce to buy in grocery stores. In someways, its good that people might be choosing between organic and non-organic, since it still is fresh produce as opposed to canned goods. But Organic, non GMO is the better way to go. Did you know that Monsanto agreed to GMO labeling in the UK, but now refuses the same for California? Somehow they give more respect to the British than Californians. Don't believe this research from Standford. I just met a couple on vacation who do this kind of research and are funded by the big food companies to get 'independent research data.
MtnManMike September 05, 2012 at 09:17 PM
It really comes down to two choices: Do you feel safe ingesting unknown chemicals with your food, or not? Most people have no idea how many chemicals are sprayed on the foods they eat. Most people think that they are merely to protect our crops from pests, when in fact, most chemicals are sprayed to bring bigger, better looking products to market sooner, in order to make more money. The key is "To make more money"...So, farmers have a motive to spray their crops, which may outweigh their concern for public health. The chemical manufacturers all claim that their product is safe, yet those applying it must wear full containment suits and breathing apparatus. But life goes on...You pay your money, and you take your chances...Feel lucky?
Marcus September 05, 2012 at 09:23 PM
@MtnManMike - I agree with your sentiments. We need to know whats going on in agriculture, and what is being used to make our food available in our grocery stores. Maybe it would become a balance again between getting better food, but not all the time. Do we really need strawberries 24/7 12 months a year? Lets go back to seasonal farming/cooking again. This will be hard since companies like Monsanto have cornered the pesticide business so much so that they sue any farmer not using their products correctly. That's right, farmers will be sued if they don't use Monsanto seed with Monsanto weed killer. It's all about trademarks, and patented corn genetics. America got strong by working hard, producing great food and allowing the individual to make their choices. This does not apply now to food production, and more people need to see whats being used on our produce and why.
rebecca niederlander September 06, 2012 at 06:03 AM
Ajay, it was lame to mention Organix in relation to this story. And what does a story from Stanford have to do with Eagle Rock, and whether or not some of us decide to shop organic? I do know for a fact that growing organic is way better for the environment and that is enough for me.
Ajay Singh (Editor) September 06, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Thanks, Rebecca. I see your point, but I do think there's a legitimate connection between the results of a major study about organic foods reported by the two major bi-coastal newspapers and Eagle Rock's only full-fledged organic foods store. (Like the study itself, it's not my aim to influence anyone's decision to buy organic food or not—only to provide the latest information in the news that has a local angle.)
Jen September 06, 2012 at 05:36 PM
This study is so stupid. They are basically comparing two types of apples and saying both have the same nutritional content, which we already knew. They didn't talk about the pesticide content, how that affects people and studies done on how pesticides cause cancer, etc. However, they did say pregnant women shouldn't eat non-organic--but what about the rest of us? When they say they are the SAME, they are definitely NOT the same at all. You are taking a bigger risk eating non-organic food, and on top of that, non-organic could be genetically modified. By releasing that, they knew people would probably read the headline and that's it, and buy non-organic food. Does anyone know who funded the study? I know Stanford did it, but did someone else fund it? It sounds like it was someone who would be to gain from people buying non-organic food in bulk. Sorry to get all worked up over it, but I really feel it's misleading. PS: Organix is an awesome store! I've been twice already.
rebecca niederlander September 07, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Ajay, I still don't buy the rationale. Vons and TJs sell organic and you didn't single them out. Organix is a fabulous place and an incredible asset to our community. And frankly, the blueberries I bought there were ten times better thant hte blueberries from TJs or Vons. So, nutritional value aside, the organix products often taste better, don't destroy the land nor contaminate the soil, don't affect the migrant workers who pick them, don't spread contaminants into the bird, insect and other animal populations and more. There are many news stories to pick up on in the larger media. Venturing into the organic/non-organic discussion without really researching the extent of the situation fully doesn't serve us.


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