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9.18.12

Organic Foods

Organic foods are a growing trend, but are they better or more nutritious than conventionally grown foods? 

More organic foods are now being offered in supermarkets.  And there is some confusion about the nutritional value of organic foods compared to conventionally grown foods.  Sara Lopinski, registered dietitian at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, says a recent study published by the Annals of Internal Medicine indicated that there is little evidence that organic foods are healthier.

“ ...  there is no difference in nutritional value or risk of bacterial contamination between organic and conventional foods. They did find that organic food consumption reduced exposure to pesticide residues by around 30 percent.  But they also noted that pesticide levels of non-organic foods were generally within the allowable limits of safety ...”

Lopinski says the term “organic” can be used for foods that are grown and processed according to U.S. organic standards.  However, the terms natural or all natural or free-range, hormone-free, are unregulated by the U.S.D.A, so there are no standards established.  She offers this advice about organic foods.

“I think bottom line is that if you can afford it, buy local and organic, but if you cannot, just keep general food safety tips in mind such as selecting a variety of foods from a variety of sources.  Buy fruits and vegetables in season if possible.  Read food labels carefully since organic doesn’t always mean healthy.”

Lopinski says non-organic fruits and vegetables have high nutritional value and are safe to consume.  She recommends washing and scrubbing fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water to help remove pesticides.

Ruth Slottag