Yet another study has shown that organic food is not more nutritious than “conventionally” grown food. The only thing that I’m surprised about is that this is big news. This should be common knowledge by now. I’ve blogged about it before. But perhaps it bears repeating. There are good reasons to buy organic foods; better nutrition is not one of them. If you want to protect the environment and reduce your exposure to pesticides then you should buy organic foods whenever possible. If you want to support your local economy and have fresher (and arguably more tasty) food then you should buy local organic foods. If you want to get more nutrients out of your food then you should eat more whole foods, regardless of whether or not they’re organic.
Is it true that organic food consumers are self righteous? A new study provides some evidence to support this theory. The researchers simply had people look at photos of organic food or “comfort” food or non-comfort food. They then asked participants to judge fictional situations and how much time they would devote to helping a stranger. It was found that those individuals who were exposed to the organic foods judged others more harshly than those in the other two groups. It was also found that they were less willing to devote time to assisting a stranger (13 minutes) than those in the other groups (24 minutes for the comfort food group and 19 minutes for the control group). The author of the study surmised that the exposure to organic foods somehow made people feel superior and as if they had already done their good deed so they didn’t need to devote as much time to helping a stranger as those in the other groups.
I wish I was able to access the journal article without paying an arm and a leg. Sadly, I can’t so I’m going to have to speculate a little here. I wonder what the organic foods were that were shown to the study participants. It sounds like they were packaged foods with “moral” names such as “Honest Tea, Purity Life, and Smart Balance”. I doubt the same result would have been seen if participants were exposed to organic fruits and vegetables. Also, the “comfort” foods used sound more like indulgences to me. They used things like cookies and brownies. I wonder if this group was seemingly more altruistic because they felt guilty about their exposure to these treats. And how were the neutral foods chosen? Oatmeal definitely sounds like a comfort food to me. I’d like to see how a group with no food exposure would respond to the scenarios.
I’m not sure what the point of this study was. Are we trying to deter people from consuming organic food? Are we trying to instil people with the belief that people who eat organic food are condescending jerks? Don’t let this dissuade you from eating organic foods if you want to.
It’s been all over the news today that pesticide residue was found on organic produce. I can’t say that this surprised me. To be honest, I was surprised that everyone else seems so surprised. I was also surprised that the percentage of contaminated produce was so small, only 23.6%. There are many ways in which organic produce can become contaminated with pesticides. Pesticides get into the water and soil and can contaminate produce in this way. There can also be contamination from spraying on neighbouring non-organic crops. According to reports, the contamination of this particular produce occurred post-harvest during storage. I’m not sure how that’s acceptable, perhaps it’s only necessary to grow crops without using pesticides to use the organic designation? That’s beside the point though. We’ve pumped so many hazardous chemicals into the environment that it’s amazing that anything is left uncontaminated. Babies are born with pesticides in their systems. We store pesticides in our body fat. A little pesticide contamination shouldn’t deter you from buying organic if that’s your prerogative. There are still many benefits to organic produce. For one thing, the more organic food that’s grown the fewer pesticides being added to the water and soil, that means that in the long run we’ll be wreaking less havoc on the environment. You’re also avoiding GMOs by choosing organic. Even if some organic produce is contaminated by pesticides, you’re still lowering your risk of exposure in comparison to “conventionally” grown crops. Purchasing organic produce doesn’t absolve you from needing to wash your fresh fruit and veggies anyway. Produce has come into contact with so many other possible contaminants during its journey to the grocery store and its time on the shelf that you should always wash it before eating it.