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Pro-con: Are organic foods better for your health?

A new study out suggests that the nutritional quality of organic food is no different from traditionally farmed foods. The media (and advocacy groups I'm sure) have taken it several steps further to say that paying extra for organic foods is a waste of money. I thought the coverage sounded too definitive to be true, so I took a look at the study. It is a review of other studies over the past 50 years, and measured levels of vitamin C, magnesium, calcium and several other nutrients, and found no difference in these nutrients. It did, however, find significantly higher levels of nitrogen in the traditional foods and did not evaluate pesticide residues or other synthetic chemicals. In the end, if you buy organic products because you think they have higher levels of vitamins and minerals, then this may be a sad day for you. But if you buy organic products as much for what they do not contain (pesticides, chemicals, “Frankenfood” practices, genetically modified organisms, unfair labor), then take heart.— Annie Kay,

Great Britain's Food Standards Agency sprayed the equivalent of DDT on the organic-food industry when it released a report stating that organic products are no more healthful for you than traditionally processed foods. In the agency's words: "There is little, if any, nutritional difference between organic and conventionally produced food, and ... there is no evidence of additional health benefits from eating organic food." If your conventionally grown Birds Eye frozen veggies are just as nutritious for you as those that are farmed organically, why pay more for the fresh stuff? Naturally, the organic-food lobby has grabbed the torches and pitchforks. The study is flawed, they say. Contradictory studies were ignored. But the FSA analyzed 162 studies and found only 55 of them to be of "satisfactory quality." What this might actually mean is that the science around those prior studies has not been as rigorous as it otherwise might be.— Rich Duprey, the Motley Fool