Is Organic food worth the fuss?

Both organic and conventionally-grown foods can provide all the nutrients required when included as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Neither is better or worse from a nutrition standpoint. Like any purchase, buying food is a personal choice – often based on a number of factors, including availability, cost, taste and environmental concerns. So at this stage, whether to buy organic or conventionally-grown food really comes down to personal preference.

The best advice is to eat a variety of foods, based on the recommendations of the Australian Dietary Guidelines. Many Australians are not eating enough of foods like fruit and vegetables so, regardless of how these are grown, the priority should be getting more people eating adequate amounts of these healthy foods.

Some studies have compared the nutrition content of organic and conventionally-grown food. In 2009 the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a review of the available research (162 studies) comparing the nutritional quality of organic and conventional crops and livestock.

Overall, there was no evidence of a difference in nutrient quality between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs. The small differences in nutrient content detected, namely nitrogen and phosphorous, are mostly due to differences in production methods. No differences were found in the other vitamins or minerals analysed, including vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc and copper. The conclusion was that organic and conventionally-grown foods are comparable.

Alan D Dangour, Sakhi K Dodhia, Arabella Hayter, Elizabeth Allen, Karen Lock,and Ricardo Uauy. Nutrition quality of organic foods: A systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr September 2009 90: 3 680-685

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