Tulsa World, Okla.
April 22, 2000
More Americans are, according to this story, cheerfully shelling out an average 20 percent premium for foods grown organically, and some consumers are even choosing to pay as much as 110 percent more for organically grown produce.
What are they getting for their money?
Lora Wilder, nutrition information specialist at the food and nutrition information center at the National Agriculture Library, was cited as saying that science is silent on this one, adding, "In terms of whether it's better or not, it totally depends on who you talk to. I'm not aware of any studies that show without a doubt that it is better from a nutritional standpoint."
Audrey Cross, national nutrition policy adviser during President Jimmy Carter's administration who has a Ph.D. in nutrition and is a Columbia University professor who continues to advise Congress, local and state governments and consumer groups, was cited as saying that nutrients are nutrients, adding, "From a nutrient point of view, Vitamin C is Vitamin C whether it was manufactured in a factory, or came from an orange grown in a nonorganic field, or from an orange grown in an organic field."
So, organically grown produce is not better for you than regular produce? "If you looked on a nutrient-by-nutrient basis, you'd have to answer that question: Probably not," Cross said.
MaryAnn O'Dell, registered dietician working for Akin's Natural Foods Market, was cited as saying she has seen one study that shows there may be more mineral content in organic fruits and vegetables, adding, "That's just one study, so it remains to be seen. Since we don't know the negative impact of pesticides over long-term use, most people do believe the organics are better for you because they don't have the pesticides."
Christine Bruhn, with the Center for Consumer Research at the University of California, Davis, was cited as saying surveys show that about 60 percent to 70 percent of consumers think that organic products are better for them, adding, "We question, as scientists, what exactly that means. Some have stated that organic products are more nutritious. There is no scientific literature to support that point of view."
Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association in Greenfield, Mass., was cited as saying that organic production methods do reduce chemical pesticide applications and benefit people, adding, "The whole basis of organic standards is about what happens to the environment when you farm. Certainly the fact that the EPA has declared agriculture as the largest nonpoint polluter of water in the United States eliminating and changing the types of materials and methods you use, as we do in organic, you're helping to improve water quality, which we're all affected by."
Cross was cited as agreeing that environmental impact has a bearing on health and that well-being results from activity levels, heredity, rest, stress and the nutrients and chemicals we gobble down with every meal, adding, "One of the things that we notice is that people who follow more natural health-styles are healthier. By more natural health-styles, I mean people who are making sure they get outdoors each day to make sure they get a certain amount of sunshine. They're making sure they sleep with the window open, and are eating organic foods. And certainly including organic foods in your diet reduces the number of chemicals that weren't really meant to be consumed by humans."
Unlike some organic food fans, Cross was cited as saying she is unwilling to buy organic produce when the food is 100 percent or 110 percent higher than conventionally produced foods.
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