Meadville Tribune

CNHI News Service Originals

September 23, 2011

Organic: Is it worth it?

Few studies show choosing organic is healthier

TONAWANDA, N.Y. — “Organic” has long been one of those buzzwords floating around health- and food-conscious communities. Most grocery stores devote at least an aisle — if not several — to organic foods. Restaurants and bakeries are even making a point to use chemical-free ingredients.

The United States Department of Agriculture sets the rules and certifies whether a farm or facility is officially producing organic foods — and the rules are specific.

SLIDESHOW: Which produce to buy organic

According to a statement on the USDA website, “organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation and genetic engineering may not be used.”

There’s a natural assumption that organic means healthy, and why not? Pesticides, hormones and antibiotics just don’t seem like the sort of things one wants to pump into their body, if not necessary.

The fact is, though, not a lot of studies actually confirm that people who eat organic food are more healthy than those who don’t.

Naheed Ali-Sayeed, chief clinical dietician at Kenmore Mercy Hospital in Tonawanda, N.Y., said the articles she’s read are not scientific based.

Ali-Sayeed points out that in the end, eating more fruits and vegetables, regardless of whether they’re organic, is what’s really important.

“I think it’s just the perception that it’s better. It may be, but all people cannot afford to buy everything organic. We still want you to eat a well-balanced diet and if it’s not organic it can still be nutritious for you to consume,” she said.

Catherine Stack, a doctor of naturopathy and certified nurse midwife in Niagara Falls, N.Y., agrees. “Organic is important to me, but getting people to eat healthy in the first place is the first step,” Stack said

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