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Nutrition Study Misses the Point of Organic

The organic food community is livid over a recent study funded by the British Food Standards Agency. On the whole, the study found, organic foods don't contain more nutrients than those conventionally grown. According to a London paper's further interpretation of the results, "Eating organic food in the belief that it is good for your health is a waste of money."

Huh?!?!? Seriously? The study didn't even look at pesticide residue, much less long-term environmental impact. It focused only on nutrient levels.

The Organic Center has come out criticizing the methodology of the study, saying it didn't look enough at levels of antioxidants and blah blah blah, but who even cares? It would be like critiquing the methodology of a study on how well seat belts prevent cancer. That's not the point of seat belts. And higher nutrition content is not the point of organic food. The study was a complete waste of time and resources to begin with.

Okay, I'm exaggerating -- unlike seat belts and cancer, there is actually some potential correlation between organic foods and nutrient levels. In fact, the study itself found higher levels of some nutrients in organic foods but lower levels of others, with the end result being neutral.

But who eats organic foods because of nutrients? I thought eating organic was about avoiding the accumulation of pesticides in the body, plus making sure that our food production methods are sustainable in the long term and don't have environmental side effects that are detrimental to public health. Why was this study even commissioned in the first place?

As nutrition expert Marion Nestle put it, "I'm surprised that investigators of this caliber would focus so narrowly on nutrient content."