Organic Foods: Are they Really Better for You?

Is Eating Organic all it is cracked up to be?

We have all seen the $6.00 gallon of milk or $5.00 dozen of eggs at the store stamped with the seal of â??Certified Organicâ??, but is it really worth the extra money. Dr. Justin Puckett from Complete Family Medicine stopped by the set of Good Morning Heartland, Monday morning, to break it down for us.

Question: So what do you think, is it worth it?

Answer: Well, Yes and No. It really depends on the item. It has only been recently that science has taken a look at it. On the surface, it sounds obvious that it should be better. But organic foods often have a shorter shelf life and if eaten at the end of their life, has increased risk of food born disease.

There was a recent study done at Southern Methodist University where they found fruit flies that were fed exclusively organic fruit out performed the control served regular fruit in all health measures. These measures include living longer, laying more eggs, resisting stress better, acting livelier. Now what does that say for humans, Iâ??m not sure?

There was a literature review done at Stanford in 2012 that reviewed over 200 research papers and they concluded that there was no evidence that organic was better than conventional food. What they were looking at was the nutrient content of organic vs. conventional food and the nutrient content is essentially the same.

A researcher at Washington State University redid their math and using more current understandings of the effects and amounts of residual pesticides, concluded, using essentially the same data, which eating organic would reduce health risks by 94 percent compared to conventional food. It is a known fact that organic products have around 30 percent fewer toxins than conventional food.

Question: So, pesticides seem to be the problem. How do they affect people?

Answer: The effects of the pesticides are not immediate, but they are more cumulative. A recent study published in Pediatrics concluded that organics â??convincingly demonstrated to expose consumers to fewer pesticides which are associated with human disease. This is most concerning in young children as they have a lifetime of exposure ahead of them. In one study, 8-15 year olds showed a 55 percent increase in ADHD with each 10 fold increase in urinary concentration of organophosphates, the most common agricultural pesticides. It seems that some people are more affected by pesticides based on genetic predispositions

According to a 2013 survey by the Organic Trade Association, 81 percent of Americans eat organic at least some of the time. So it looks like many Americans are at least dabbling in eating Organic.

Question: What is the primary deterrent to eating organic?

Answer: That would be money. On average eating organic costs a third more (33 percent) than conventional food. But here in the Heartland, it isnâ??t uncommon for many organic items to exceed 100, 200 or even 300 percent of its conventional counterpart.

Question: What can one do to try and make organic more affordable?

Asnwer: Buying frozen organic product is generally cheaper. Also, buying in bulk often yields a better price. And across the heartland many communities have farmers markets where locally grown food is available direct from the farmer. You can ask about their farming practice, and while there is nothing stopping them from misrepresenting their uncertified product as organic, I think they will tell you the truth.

Question: Are there some foods that are more likely to contain pesticides than anther?

Answer: Yes, there is a list called the dirty dozen. This list of foods has the highest content of residual pesticide.

1) Apples

2) Celery

3) Cherry tomatoes

4) Cucumbers

5) Grapes

6) Hot peppers

7) Kale

8) Nectarines

9) Peaches

10) Potatoes

11) Red bell peppers

12) Strawberries

Complete Family Medicine

1611 S. Baltimore

Kirksville, MO. 63501