Some "food for thought" on the topic.
1) the original idea and concept 40 years ago, was honorable and run locally by small farmers with high ideals.
2) big business got involved because they saw the growing market amongst aging baby boomers and the potential profits
3) The concept was eventually taken over by the food industry & big business about 5-7 years ago when the national standard was issued and watered down the original ideals.
4) no one in the original movement ever intended it to grow into a movement that had organic twinkies and organic junk food. It was originally only about whole, natural, unprocessed unrefined foods and making healthy food healthier. Not making junk foods appear healthy.
5) the small farmers are basically out because they cant meet the demand of the big distributors like whole foods and wild oats who need consistent product. So, the big farmers are now doing it all. Also, the small organic companies were all bought out by the big food companies (ie kellogs owns kashi)
6) there is no clear cut evidence that it is any healthier for you or more nutritious or safer.. Organic only refers to a growing method. Even the industry itself will admit this. Only the marketers make these questionable claims.
7) if there is any benefit, it is probably an environmental one, but that is not clear yet either.
8 ) the standards have been so watered down that organic doesnt even mean organic anymore.
9) the higher cost "could" be justified if the products were coming from small local farms and/or if there was a proven significant difference benefit. However, since neither one is true, the industry can not really justify its significant higher pricing other than to say it is just capitalizing on a current trend.
10 ) people are spending lots of extra money thinking they are buying health, when in reality, for many people and the products they buy, they are just buying another illusion.
Some articles and studies supporting these points....
The Organic Myth: Pastoral ideals are getting trampled as organic food
goes mass market
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/co ... han=search
Organic no longer means what it mean years and decades ago. Many chemicals are allowed to be used. You can read the list of "allowable" products right here
Behind the Organic-Industrial Complex
Michael Pollan / New York Times 13 may 01
Organic food exposed
Issue 16 of Cosmos, August 2007
by Elizabeth Finkel
Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2003 Sep;54(5):357-71.
Organic food: nutritious food or food for thought? A
review of the evidence.
Apparently, one of the primary reasons for purchasing organic food is the perception that it is more nutritious than conventional food. Given the increasing interest towards organic food products, it is imperative to review the existing literature concerning the nutritional value of the produce, and to determine to what extent are consumer expectations met. There are only few well-controlled studies that are capable of making a valid comparison and, therefore, compilation of the results is difficult and generalisation of the conclusions should be made with caution. In spite of these limitations, however, some differences can be identified. Although there is little evidence that organic and conventional foods differ in respect to the concentrations of the various micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and trace elements), there seems to be a slight trend towards higher ascorbic acid content in organically grown leafy vegetables and potatoes. There is also a trend towards lower protein concentration but of higher quality in some organic vegetables and cereal crops. With respect to the rest of the nutrients and the other food groups, existing evidence is inadequate to allow for valid conclusions. Finally, animal feeding experiments indicate that animal health and reproductive performance are slightly improved when they are organically fed. A similar finding has not yet been identified in humans. Several important directions can be highlighted for future research; it seems, however, that despite any differences, a well-balanced diet can equally improve health regardless of its organic or conventional origin.
Proc Nutr Soc. 2002 Feb;61(1):19-24. Nutritional quality of organic food: shades of grey or shades of green?
Consumer concern regarding possible adverse health effects of foods produced using intensive farming methods has led to considerable interest in the health benefits of organically-produced crops and animal products. There appears to be widespread perception amongst consumers that such methods result in foods of higher nutritional quality. The present review concludes that evidence that can support or refute such perception is not available in the scientific literature. A limited number of studies have compared the nutrient compositions of organically- and conventionally-produced crops, with a very small number of studies that have compared animal products (meat, milk and dairy products) produced under the two agricultural systems. Very few compositional differences have been reported, although there are reasonably consistent findings for higher nitrate and lower vitamin C contents of conventionally-produced
vegetables, particularly leafy vegetables. Data concerning possible impacts on animal and human health of diets comprising organic or conventional produce are extremely sparse. Data from controlled studies in animal models, particularly within single species, are limited or poorly designed, and findings from these studies provide conflicting conclusions. There are no reports in the literature of controlled intervention studies in human subjects. Comparison of health outcomes in populations that habitually consume organically- or conventionally-produced foods are flawed by the large number of confounding factors that might contribute to any differences reported. If consumer perceptions regarding potential health benefits of organic foods are to be supported, more research of better quality is needed than that which is currently available.
Food Addit Contam. 2005 Jun;22(6):514-34. Quality of organically and conventionally grown potatoes: four-year study of micronutrients, metals,
secondary metabolites, enzymic browning and organoleptic properties.
The quality of potatoes from organic and conventional farming was investigated in this study. Tubers of eight potato varieties, organically and conventionally produced at one or two geographical sites in controlled field trials, were collected in four consecutive harvests from 1996-1999. The parameters analysed included nitrate, trace elements (As, Cd, Co, Cu, Fe, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb, Se, Zn), vitamin C, potato glycoalkaloids, as well as chlorogenic acid, polyphenol oxidase and rate of tuber enzymic browning. The results indicated lower nitrate content and higher vitamin C and chlorogenic acid content to be the parameters most consistently differentiating organically from conventionally produced potatoes. Elevated concentrations of glycoalkaloids were also observed throughout the experiments in some potato varieties grown in organic farming systems. Principal component analysis (PCA) of the analytical and other data using three PCs confirmed a good separation between the organically and conventionally produced potatoes when studied in single crop years. However, score-plots (objects) and loading-plots (variables) of pooled results from the consecutive harvests showed that between the years' changes and also variety as well as geographical variations are equally or more important factors determining the quality of potatoes than the farming system. Further studies of various marker compounds of potato quality related to the organic or conventional farming systems should be performed before unbiased information can be given to the consumers.
J. Agric. Food Chem., 54 (21), 8301 -8306, 2006. Metabolite Profiling of Wheat Grains (Triticumaestivum L.) from Organic and Conventional Agriculture
In some European community countries up to 8% of the agricultural area is managed organically. The aim was to obtain a metabolite profile for wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) grains grown under comparable organic and conventional conditions. These conditions cannot be found in plant material originating from different farms or from products purchased in supermarkets. Wheat grains from a long-term biodynamic, bioorganic, and conventional farming system from the harvest 2003 from Switzerland were analyzed. The presented data show that using a high throughput GC-MS technique, it was possible to determine relative levels of a set of 52 different metabolites including amino acids, organic acids, sugars, sugar alcohols, sugar phosphates, and nucleotides from wheat grains. Within the metabolites from all field trials, there was at the most a 50% reduction comparing highest and lowest mean values. The statistical analysis of the data shows that the metabolite status of the wheat grain from organic and mineralic farming did not differ in concentrations of 44 metabolites. This result indicates no impact or a small impact of the different farming systems. In consequence, we did not detect extreme differences in metabolite composition and quality of wheat grains.
Scientific Status Summary
Journal of Food Science
Volume 71 Issue 9 Page R117 -
Free, full-text access online at:
http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/fu ... ookieSet=1
While many studies demonstrate these qualitative differences between organic and conventional foods, it is premature to conclude that either food system is superior to the other with respect to safety or nutritional composition.
Pesticide residues, naturally occurring toxins, nitrates, and polyphenolic compounds exert their health risks or benefits on a dose-related basis, and data do not yet exist to ascertain whether the differences in the levels of such chemicals between organic foods and conventional foods are of biological significance.
Commun Agric Appl Biol Sci. 2005;70(3):351-63. Comparison of health status between organic and conventional products.
This paper reports the results of two trials carried out to estimate the hygienic-sanitary status of samples obtained from organic farming in comparison with products obtained from conventional agriculture. In three years of activity were carried out analyses on samples of common or durum wheat and on processing products like. flour, bran, macaroni and bread obtained from biological and conventional method. Also samples of vegetables and fruits were analyzed. The laboratory analysis have been focalized on qualitative and quantitative evaluation of fungal contamination and surveying of pesticide residues level. [b[The great size of collected data has not highlighted substantial differences between the two analyzed typologies. [/b]About pesticide residues levels, generally they proved to be contained under the Italian legal limit, so both these products can be considered healthy under a hygienic-sanitary profile. The trials should be extended also to other cultivations like herbs, fruit-trees and vegetables to improve our knowledge's about qualitative and hygienic differences beyond the two methods of production and defense.