Organic Products

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Is Organic Food More Nutritious Than Conventional? Probably Not.

Organic produce. (Siel Ju: Flickr)

Organic produce. (Siel Ju: Flickr)

As Amy Standen reported this morning for KQED, researchers at Stanford University have combed through hundreds of scientific papers, comparing organically-grown produce to conventional. In one important respect, they found very little difference.

The study, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, didn’t ask whether organic fruits and vegetables are better for the environment, or create a safer workplace for farm workers.

It didn’t ask whether organic foods taste better, or whether trace amounts of pesticides can affect human health over time.

Rather, said physician Dena Bravata, the study’s co-author, the question was:

“What is the evidence that organic and conventional foods differ in either their nutritional benefit or their safety?”

The answer? There isn’t much evidence of that at all. Bravata says when it comes to healthfulness, “there is, in general, not a robust evidence base for the difference between organic and conventional foods.”

Over at NPR, the Salt blog added this context:

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Organic Products Must Be … Well … Organic

Manufacturers of these products will have to change their formulation or remove word "organic" from label. (Photo: Center for Environmental Health)

Manufacturers of these products will have to change their formulation or remove word "organic" from label. (Photo: Center for Environmental Health)

In a first-ever test of California’s law regarding organic personal care products (think hair and skincare products, even toothpaste), the Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health (CEH) announced today that it has reached settlement with 11 companies, ones that make national-brand products labelled organic, but were not organic under California law. The 2003 California Organic Products Act (COPA) requires products labelled “organic” to contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients.

Earlier this year, CEH spent hours shopping at national retailers, including Target, Walgreens, Whole Foods and others, selecting products labelled “organic.” In June, the CEH filed lawsuits against more than two dozen manufacturers, saying specific products did not meet the standard and were in violation of state law.

In the agreements announced today, 11 companies have agreed to comply with COPA, either by increasing the amount of organic ingredients or by removing the word “organic” from their label. The agreement further requires companies to make their ingredient records available to CEH for inspection.

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