July 30th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

What does it mean if organic food is no healthier than regular food?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Organic food is no healthier or more nutritious than regular food. But it is more expensive.

That's according to a study commissioned by the British government and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Researchers looked at 50,000 studies conducted over 50 years - and found no significant differences in the foods. They focused on a wide range of crops and livestock raised and marketed under organic standards.

The few differences they found were about the kind of fertilizer used - like nitrogen or phosphorus - and how ripe the crops were when harvested. They say these differences are unlikely to provide any health benefit to consumers.

This will probably come as a blow to those who shell out a lot of money to buy the more expensive organic products because they think it's healthier.

Sales of organic foods have skyrocketed in the U.S. in the last 20 years; topping $23 billion last year.

Critics of the report say it ignores possible side-effects from pesticides and that organic farming may be better for the health of the animals. They say consumers who buy organic are supporting a system that bans the routine use of antibiotics and treats livestock better.

But if you buy organic food because you think it's more nutritious, you may want to think again. Plus, regular food is cheaper.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean if organic food is no healthier or more nutritious than regular food?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Lynne from North Augusta, S.C. writes:
It means you are ignoring the effects of pesticides on the land and on the animals, the runoff into our rivers and oceans, and the efforts of family farmers over the agribusiness corporations. I'd frankly rather pay more money to the small, responsible farmer. There are too few of them left in America.

John from Topock, Arizona writes:
Another glaring example of how gullible the American consumer is, especially those suave yuppie intellectuals who like to preach about how and what to eat.

Casey from Minneapolis writes:
I'll always be willing to pay more for produce that isn't treated with environment-harming chemicals and for meat that came from animals treated a little more humanely. Not everything is about us, Jack.

Jean from Franktown, Colorado writes:
It means I will continue to shop as I always have, ignoring the organics, but not wondering anymore if I'm making a mistake.

Shelley writes:
I buy organic all the time and I don't usually think it's healthier. I think this study misses the point: the reason most of us buy organic is because we know the food has been grown without pesticides and hormones – and that is healthier, is it not?

Janie writes:
Dear Jack, I don't always buy organic, but I will tell you that when you go into a store here in Oregon that sells organic or even our local supermarket which offers local organic food, it looks way better, smells better and tastes much better.

Jenny writes:
Jack, It means someone is being fleeced, besides the organic sheep, of course.

Filed under: Food Prices • Health
soundoff (128 Responses)
  1. michael vidor - california

    Jack >
    The idea is pure, thinly veiled propaganda right from mouths of the U.S. mega food producers in the face of the movie Food Inc., which spells out the facts like Michael Moore's film Sicko did about health and the insurance companies> the ignorant public doesn't want to deal with facts so let them eat the garbage that is being passed for healthy food > one must only look at nutrition and health relative to diabetes, cancers and obesity > this is not brain surgery we are talking about here > if you want to eat it, eat it and smoke 'em' if you got 'em if you wanna > its a choice based on the right information and personal preference

    July 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  2. Susan

    The adverse effects of pesticides on the human endocrine system are well documented. So while non-organic food may have the same nutritional value as organic food, it sure has lots and lots of 'extras'! Pesticides and heavy metals, to name just a few.

    Just another study by Global Corporate America to reassure the public that our food and water supplies are safe. Couldn't be further from the truth.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  3. Lorraine Lamb

    I look for food grown without hormones, pesticides, and chemicals added...I feel my body has to cope with enough everyday pollutants and it doesnt need more added from the food I eat. I will grow my own and know it is cheaper and better...

    July 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  4. Dave

    It may not be healthier, from a nutrition standpoint as far as vitamins, minerals, protein, etc. which are in the food. However, organically grown fruits and vegetables are not treated with pesticides and other unnatural products which we end up consuming. Along these same lines, organically raised free range chickens may have the same nutritional composition as Perdue chicken, but again there are no unnatural ingredients used, hormones, etc. So overall it does not surprise me that from a nutritional standpoint there is no difference, but if you can consider what we end up consuming into our bodies when we eat organically grown/raised products v. other products, I still think there is a significant difference, particularly when you consider feeding your children.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  5. Dave

    I don't usually agree with you but thank you for pointing this out. Organic food has always struck me as a marketing scam directed to the "save the world" , vegetarian and Hollywood types and those with too much discetionary income that like to stay fit and need soem elitist thing to obsess about. The key is eating the right stuff ( largely non processed foods), even if its not "organic", exercising and having good genes.
    Thanks for the report.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  6. Leslie

    Being that this article does not detail whether or not the study included findings relative to the use of pesticides in regular versus organic food, the study means nothing to me. And I therefore, cannot answer the question. I eat organic because it decreases the amount of toxins going into my body, not because it is more nutritious. However, the argument could be made that eating food that is lower in artificial toxins from pesticides is better for you and thus more nutritious than food that isn't.

    Birmingham, AL

    July 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  7. bobcat1a

    Just because it's not more nutricious doesn't mean it's not healthier. How much DDT did we eat in the old days, how much pesticide do we eat today, and who thinks any of that is healthy?

    July 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  8. Gary Simpson

    The study misses the point of organic food entirely. A similar study a few years back found that organic food tastes the same as conventional food. But it is not about taste or nutrition; it is about chemicals being introduced to our food and our planet. While a conventional strawberry may be just as plump and nutrituous as an organic strawberry, it also contains trace amounts of the pesticides and herbicides that were used to grow it. It is that simple. Organic food is healthier for our bodies and planet because it does not require the use of toxic chemicals.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  9. Sweetums

    i've never purchased organic items over conventional ones because i thought it was more nutritious...i made the purchase because i didn't want my items showered in pesticides and other potentially toxic 'perservatives" at the end of the day an apple is an apple both in terms of taste and nutritional value; however, an organic apple didn't require a lot of spraying and whatnot...it grew organically. when people choose to purchase organic over conventional it's more indicative of preference to support those farmers who support conscientious farming practices.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  10. Dmitry Bunich


    Regular food IS the organic food. What you call "regular" is "altered" food, one way or another.

    Why do you think obesity is such a problem in the U.S. ? Why do you think people's bodies do not decompose years after death?

    July 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  11. Dominic

    Organic produce may not be healthier necessarily. Although, the fact that they are equal is highly questionable. But organic produce certainly tastes a lot better. More importantly it makes sense to eat organic food products because the non-organic food products are typically incredibly unhealthy. Compare an organic chip to any mainstream snacks like Lays or Doritos. The organic snack will be way healthier 10 times out of 10. That is the point of eating organic. If only those companies could learn how to make legitimately healthy foods then they wouldn't have to learn about organic food makers stealing their market share.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  12. Mike

    This doesn't really change what I think about buying organic – it's a decision to support a system that doesn't use pesticides on crops, hormones and antibiotics in livestock, and additives in finished foodstuffs. A lot of this has more to do with environmental impacts – organic farming should have a less of a negative impact on the environment.

    Personally, I choose to buy local wherever possible – even if it isn't organic, it hasn't been trucked thousands of miles and it is usually fresher (namely when it's in season).

    July 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  13. Laura Vines

    This is hogwash. They're not measuring the things that make organic foods healthier. It's not what's IN organic foods that make them better and healthier. It's what is NOT in organic foods that make them healthier. Never mind that they taste better. This would be a study designed to allow the harmful practices of past decades to continue, to the detriment of the population. There is no other developed nation that allows their cattle to be fed antibiotics and hormones. There is a reason for that! All we're about is money.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:01 pm |
  14. Brian

    Did this study look at the environmental differences between conventional and organic foods... or did it just consider nutrition and health benefits?

    July 30, 2009 at 5:01 pm |
  15. sean

    I'd like to know what the classifiation of health is. If it's vitamins and minerals in food then no, I don't believe "regular food" is anymore healthy. However, if healthier is eating food without antibiotics, hormones and pesticides, then how can argue organic food is not healthier?

    July 30, 2009 at 5:01 pm |

    Consumers don't buy organic to get better nutrition! I try to buy organic for certain types of produce knowing that I will be putting less pesticides into my body. Though maybe not more nutritional it IS healthier! Publicity of this study will only side track the public into thinking there is no difference at all.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:01 pm |
  17. Janice McCarthy

    Where is this article? I thought I would read it first, to make a more informed comment, but I find no such article in the current issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition nor in the past 3 issues.

    In any case, the conclusion that organic food is 'no healthier' than conventionally grown food is far to broad for any scientific study. All the study could possibly conclude is that whatever substances the researchers looked for (which presumably others in the past have decided may improve overall health) were present in comparable quantities. So what? Plants produce an enormous number of substances, most definitely too many to test for.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:01 pm |
  18. Vassiliki

    The fact that no antibiotics are used makes the food healthier.
    It is worth spending money in organic. Hopefully, it will become a law not to use antibiotics & chemicals in growing food.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:01 pm |
  19. Tim Riley

    Organic food is not intended to imply more nutritious. Instead, organic means non-organic pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides are restricted. I believe that the lack of these compounds are healthier than if included, especially in foods that you don't peel before eating.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:02 pm |
  20. Daniel

    It means nothing, because their motives never had anything to do with the fablsified health argument. Illogical do-gooders believe that spending an extra three dollars on their carton of eggs somehow exonerates them from a life of pathetic superficiality and saves animals from falsely purported harm. Buying organic is just another form of conspicuous consumption, aimed at impressing nearby shoppers and the occasional dinner guest. Oh, and never mind the substantial reduction in world hunger that has come as a result of our much improved capacity to produce incredible yields with finite natural resources.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:02 pm |
  21. D Lang

    I understand what they are saying but I have found organic veg. and fruit products are fresher and keep better. So it does have a good reason to pay a lttle more.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:02 pm |
  22. Bill from MA

    Jack, the question should not be just about the minutia of organics... If I can buy locally grown more ecologically produced food, I do... why not ?

    It supports local farmers trying to do it in a much better more natural way... Why not add less poisons to our environment... it makes good sound sense to me.

    The problem really is more about the large corporations only using "organics" as a marketing tool.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:02 pm |
  23. Alan K

    They don't bear a designer label, so that's out the window, and 12 hours from now they're down the tubes, so to speak, regardless which of them one buys... so what's the point of spending willfully and recklessly?

    Of course, there's always the social interaction component — the organic grocery replacing the gym or bar as a place to "squeeze the produce".

    Freshness, appearance, quality levels assumed equal... you'd have to be a crazy ignorant spendthrift, or just plain clueless when it comes to value and money management. Hmm... squeezing fresh produce... what a fun thought!

    July 30, 2009 at 5:02 pm |
  24. Shannon

    Doesn't synthetic pesticides contribute more to polluted waterways? I live in the Chesapeake Bay region, so even IF organic food isn't better for you, organic farming practices are better for the local environment. Organic food isn't just about being more nutritious it is also about changing in how farmers farm.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:02 pm |
  25. Kevin

    Also, for what it's worth, according to the Integrity in Science Database, Dr. Ricardo Uauy – credited on the study – has been a paid adviser to Unilever, Wyeth, Danone, DSM, Kellogg, Knowles and Bolton, Roche Vitamins Europe Ltd., and the International Copper Association.

    Tucson, AZ

    July 30, 2009 at 5:02 pm |
  26. dePaz

    Supporting "Organic" foods is more than a nutritional choice. It encompasses a way of life and belief in growing and harvesting the food you eat in harmony with nature. It is better for the environtment, better for the body and better for the soul.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:02 pm |
  27. Paul

    Who eats organic because they think its more nutritious... this is a ridiculous article/study

    Organic food is consumed to circumvent the pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

    This is a hype headline.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:03 pm |
  28. Ryan

    Organic food IS better – and I personally believe that the study's results are highly suspect. The problem with these "studies" is the very presuppositions and controls that are placed on the studies.
    There are MANY people who know the results of it in their own life. We don't continue shelling out money for something we suspect of not having the desired effect.
    Also, while some food is marketed as "organic" – by government standards – it may not actually be as natural as some people are let to believe. There are clear cases where one farmer is growing things naturally and by good standards, but is not able to label his food as organic because of the government standards. Others may be doing LESS for the well-being of the animals or plants, and be able to call their food organic – again, by the government standards. Frankly, I think the government should get out of the food industry. They will never be able to eliminate all disease, and their efforts hamper good farmers in a big way.
    San Antonio, TX

    July 30, 2009 at 5:03 pm |
  29. Sharon J. White

    When I heard this story this morning – my immediate thought was that of course organic does not mean that there are more nutrients in organic products!!!

    Organic to me means that there are no added pesticides/antibiotics/harmful JUNK used in growing/creating the product – from beginning to end (such as cereals and other products that require "recipes" to make the product).

    This is the silliest/"stupidest" story/research with wasted $$$ spent by the British government (who funded this project)... I am nonplussed by this story as all that I can think is DUH!!! I have never heard any claims that growing organically added nutrients to the end product...

    July 30, 2009 at 5:03 pm |
  30. Alex

    That is not true at all. The damage GMO's do has been hushed up by the industry and government. Not to mention no one really knows what pesticides do to humans yet because of the lack of studies done on it.

    This is totally insulting to people that are intelligent. Not everyone is paid off or uneducated.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:03 pm |
  31. Ken in NC

    It means the Organic Food Industry learned well it’s lessons from the Financial Industry of Wall Street.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:03 pm |
  32. Mike in Scottsdale

    We had our children go organic not to be healthier in a diet sense but because there are no aritificial colors, high fructose corn syrup or other ingredients you can't pronounce. One of my boys is a little bi-polar and ADD; he has energy mood swings and we have also noticed in the past that his skin has sometimes reacted to dyes and chemicals in clothing, fake tatoos, markers, etc.

    Imagine ingesting the stuff your skin displays an allergic reaction to! Once we switched him, his mood/energy swings are very infrequent and really just normal now. His teachers say it has made a world of difference in his attention span in class and he even says he feels different. Occasionally we do treats and occasionally after those treats we can tell a difference. Going organic does nothing for our other children but for my boy it is a different life for him.

    It seems there are a lot of kids out there with mood/energy type issues and it seems that the amount of kids being put on drugs such as Ritalin just keep increasing ... maybe some of this phenomenon can be blamed on all the stuff they keep putting in "normal" food?

    July 30, 2009 at 5:03 pm |
  33. Justin

    Is it really that much of a surprise. Honestly, an apple is an apple, no matter what else you want to call it, etc. I never bought into the whole "organic" frenzy, although there are some organic food that have better taste and quality. I know some buy organic to "support local farmers".

    We usually shop at the market here in Seattle. While we do not buy "organic" and rather just regular fruits and veggies, we are supporting the local farmers rather than big corporate chains, as well as saving hundreds of dollars a year, as it's much cheaper to buy from vendors at the market. To me, that's more important than focusing on "organic", as I've always felt there was no difference. Still just as healthy, and a whole heck of a lot cheaper. 🙂

    July 30, 2009 at 5:03 pm |
  34. Julie Steenson

    I think one has to define "healthier." I don't believe that any study can determine the long-term effects of exposure to pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. And organic farming is "healthier" for the animals, the land, and the farmers...Here in NH, we support our local organic farmers, thereby making our local economy "healthier" too!
    And if you have ever taste-tested certain "cheaper" foods versus "organic" - bananas are VERY noticeable - organic just tatses better. So, regardless of any study, I am sticking to my organic food as much as possible.
    Julie Steenson
    New Boston, NH

    July 30, 2009 at 5:04 pm |
  35. Tobie Smith

    "The report ignores possible side effects of pesticides". The main difference between regular food and organic food is how it is farmed and or raised. If the report ignores the side effects of pesticides and growth hormones, then what is the purpose of the report? The report is basically saying that humans can eat bug killing chemicals and medicines that make animals gain weight without IMMEDIATE health problems. But long term side effects were not reported. Our country is plagued with obesity and we wonder why. Possibly its from 25 years of eating hormones created to PACK POUNDS on animals. But no worries, there are no immediate health issues.....

    July 30, 2009 at 5:04 pm |
  36. M Hampton

    It does not surprise me at all to hear that regular food is no more nutritious than organic. Having said that, I believe this study was completely worthless and mis-guided as a signifciant portion of consumers prefer organic foods strictly because of the limited use of poisonous pesticides. I would like to see a report that addresses the long-term health effects of consuming pesticides as a by-product of regular food verse organic.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:04 pm |
  37. David Bebeau,Springfield Missouri

    It means that the food is the same but in one you are not eating chemicals and the other you are eating really dangerous chemicals.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:04 pm |
  38. Dustin


    I don't buy organic food because I think it has more nutrient value. I buy organic food because I don't like the pestisides that most farms use on their crops. They do not promote a natural ecosystem. Organic farms, as noted in your article, also promote more humane treatment of animals.

    I don't think most people who buy organic are foolish enough to think they are buying something with a higher nutritional value, rather they are making a choice that promotes more natural and humane ways to obtain food.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:04 pm |
  39. Dan


    The study is terribly flawed. While it finds no more nutrition in organic foods it does not address the lack of pesticides and other chemicals in non-organic agriculture. Of course naturally grown food is going to be better for you...

    July 30, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  40. Bill Zepernick

    I don't know anyone who buys organic food because it is more nutritious. People buy organic fruits and vegetable because they taste better, aren't covered with pesticides and chemicals, and support a more sustainable form of agriculture.

    Your question makes it seem that organic buyers are suckers for paying a little more – but the real suckers in our country are people who will hand over their hard earned money for the pesticide-coated, fertilizer-bloated, flavorless produce that the agricultural-industrial complex churns out.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  41. Ralph Spyer chicago Il

    God only knows what they are putting in our food how else can U.S. food have a shelf life of 20yr.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  42. Paul

    Priceless. I guess what they taught me in organic chemistry and biochemistry etc is true. All food made from carbon has to be organic.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  43. Tyler

    Organic food never claimed to have greater nutritional value. This is not really a story. People pay for organic food because it tastes better and is better for the environment, not because they think it gives them more vitamin C.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  44. Jesse


    Although organic food may not be any healthier, a short-term study would never be able to tell us. Cancer and other diseases are caused by long-term exposure to carcinogenics and chemicals, so the benefits of eating organic food would likely only be seen over a very long term.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  45. Sweetums

    i've never purchased organic items over conventional ones because i thought it was more nutritious...i made the purchase because i didn't want my items showered in pesticides and other potentially toxic 'perservatives" at the end of the day, an apple is an apple both in terms of taste and nutritional value; however, an organic apple didn't require a lot of spraying and whatnot...it grew organically. when people choose to purchase organic over conventional it's more indicative of preference to support those farmers who support conscientious farming practices...it's not necessarily because "it'sbetter for you."

    July 30, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  46. Bill

    I am not totally surprised. When you put organic and not organic products next to each other, people can not really see ortaste any difference.
    The marketing efforts for the need to use organic products almost makes you feel guilt if you do not eat organic foods. Next we should check into the dairy marketing..most countries do not push milk and get along just fine without it !

    July 30, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  47. DM - San Diego

    I'm not sure what that means Jack. I'm just waiting for a study to come out saying that smoking tobacco is actually good for you. My wife would have to back off the topic. Then all the good people could stop trying to persecute smokers and tax them to death.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  48. Rose

    This means we are paying extra just because we think its better. Unless you grow it yourself you can't even know for sure if it is organic grown. All about that all mighty dollar everybody wants to get over on somebody. The Root of all Evil. Money hungry people Stop it we are sick of it.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  49. JR

    We never have purchased organic food thinking that it was somehow more nutritious than regular less expensive items. So this new study really means nothing to us. The reasons we choose to buy organic is to avoid all the junk put in and on our foods.
    When shopping we purchase only meat, poultry,dairy and fish that is raised organic or wild. We purchase fruits and vegetables organic and non-organic. Varieties that are grown with tons of pesticides or GMO starts we always purchase organic.
    We always try to purchase crops that are in season and locally grown in our area or grow our own.
    Coffee we only buy organic.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  50. P. Callahan

    Surely the use of pesticides/chemicals on non-organic fruit and vegetables is an issue of health. Since many such pesticides accumulate in the body, it might be worth a look to study those long term effects.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  51. sr taylor

    that's a flat out lie.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  52. Ben

    No duh, the point of organic isn't a self serving benefit. It is that it was made in ways that don't harm the environment. It's like it is an alien concept to some people that we are willing to pay more for a product that doesn't cause as much harm to the planet.

    Anyone who thought it was healthier for them was an idiot from the beginning and was ignorant to the reasons for organic agriculture.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  53. Justin Nicola

    I don't buy organic because I think I'm getting something more, it's because I'm getting less. I don't think it's more nutrisious, it's simply not covered in chemicals. Why on earth, when food has been growing for millions of years, would I prefer it doused with chemicals whipped up over the last 100 years? Many pesticides have been proven to cause health problems, DDT anyone? Why would I purposefully eat food that could later cause health issues once someone finally figures it out?

    July 30, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  54. Keith Williams

    The benefits of organic food are *much* longer term than was tested for in this study. This study was far too narrow to catch the most important benefits of organic foods..

    Organic food is better for the environment- it's better for the soil, the atmosphere, the bees and other insects. The positive effects on the environment are much longer term than was studied.

    Also, the negative side effects of non-organic practices are seldom felt at the site of consumption: consider pesticides and artificial soil supplements that run downstream. Consumers upstream enjoy the bounty; those downstream suffer the disease. Did this study take these broader environmental issues into account? Nope.

    The simple fact is that the environment would be much better off without companies like Monsanto (remember agent orange? does dioxin ring a bell?) and Union Carbide (remember Bhopal?).

    C'mon, this study is a joke! What they discovered is trivially obvious, and it is also trivially obvious that they didn't study the most important aspects of organic food production.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  55. Oliver Mackenzie

    Organic foods were such a crock to begin with. Without pesticides, the world's food production would be halved. Since there is no health benefit and certainly no cost benefit for buying organic foods, all you end up doing is supporting famine.

    Springfield, Missouri

    July 30, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  56. Lisa

    It depends on why people choose organic. I choose it as often as possible because it means fewer pesticides and antibiotics in our environment. The organic food I consume may not have any more nutrients than conventional food but every acre farmed organic means less poisoned drinking water, healthier soil and less poisoned air.

    I think most people who chose to support organic farmers know that organic food isn't any more nutritious than conventional food. This isn't news unless you are woefully ignorant of food politics.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  57. marc

    sounds like the same people who preach global warming are on the organic food bandwagon to

    July 30, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  58. Charles of Roswell, GA

    Good news. That will definitely save me lots of money buying organic food.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  59. John Juber

    Oh here we go again, people eat Organic because its not laden in pesticides or as much, nutrition isn't a big factor.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  60. Mayor, K

    Interesting. Well I guess it means the organic industry got over big time on the American people.

    I have a family member who has eaten only organic foods and 'health conscious' items for the past 15 years – faithfully. This person is now ill to the point they can't leave their home due to serious digestion problems. Meaning, no travel. No nothing. This is a person who traveled out of the country about every year.

    I still can't understand how someone who engaged in the most strict eating routines, is now very ill and spends hundreds a month with dietition and other physician bills. It doesn't add up.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  61. Brian Ledbetter

    I purchase organic foods to decrease my exposure to industrial fertilizers and pesticides. I think the term "healthy" is pejorative in this context as pesticide and fertilizer exposure has been shown to result in ling term negative health implications. I have no doubt that the nutritional value is no different between organic and non-organic food but I feel the additional investment in avoiding industrial chemicals is worthwhile to my long term health.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  62. Dan

    I eat organic food, not because it's healthier, but for for the following reasons.

    1. It tastes better, plain and simple. 1% organic milk tastes like conventional whole or 2% milk to me.

    2. It is sustainable – crops don't deplete the soil etc.

    3. Animals and livestock are treated better.

    4. The people who produce it are more conscientious and caring and less likely to take shortcuts that would contaminate food. Look at the nasty egg farm in Maine they just found – carcasses and feces everywhere, rotting right next to eggs that would later be sold and eaten.

    5. I hate the idea of eating chemicals. Conventional produce is covered in them. By "healthier" does this study mean the level of vitamins/nutrients etc? To me, healthy means eating the purest form of the food possible, not its nutritional value. Organic ice cream is still terrible for you, but the infrastructure that produced it is friendlier to the world, the animals and more sustainable in an era of dwindling resources. Did anyone really think they could eat organic desserts all day and it would be "healthy"?

    July 30, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  63. david coats

    I love America! The land of the greedy and can never change. We are stuck in the mind set of the 50's and dont realize with the future, change has to occur. Same with gas and the need for renewable energy. This tale of Organic foods not being healthier is a cry from large corporations scared of losing profits.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  64. Taylor

    Jack- Sure the nutrients may be the same in these foods, but how can you say that food grown without pesticides is not an overall healthier product?

    The most important issue to me, regarding food, is that it is grown locally and naturally. I don't want to put food that has been genetically/scientifically altered in order to become ripe faster, have a more "perfect" shape or color. Also, moving food 1000's of miles to our plate is not sustainable or good for the environment–you have to look at the whole picture.

    The food industry has changed more in the last 50 years than in the previous 10,000. Local, responsible farming will be the wave of the future.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  65. Jimmy

    I've been saying this for the longest time! What you eat and how much you eat is so much more important than if its organic or not. Inspite of the problems associated with pesticides, genetic enhancements in cropping technology have resulted in foods that are higher in nutritional value and are more blight and disease resistant. These are GOOD things. Organic foods are often grown inefficiently, and their higher markup prices are not justified. When was the last time you saw organic fruits look healthier juicier and more robust than state of the art disease resistant and nutrition juiced pink grapefruits? Right.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  66. RJ from Lake,MI

    Jack, it simply means your buying into another scam and paying more for it to boot!

    July 30, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  67. John Hix

    Thanks Jack for exposing another advertising marketing gimick. This rates right up there with different grades of gasoline, vitamin drinks, and the whole assortment of exercise machines.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  68. D. Fredrickson

    I don't think most people who buy organic foods are doing so because they think those foods have a higher nutritional value. Most, like me, simply do not want added toxins, antibiotics, or pesticides in their food. As a cancer survivor, that is the most important aspect for me. I will continue to buy organic food, and-–just as important--purchase local products and produce to support our local economy and minimize transportation costs that keep us dependent on fossil fuel.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  69. Ethan Jensen

    The study may have found that INGESTING organic food is no better than eating non-organic, but that's not the biggest concern, in my opinion. BUYING organic food is definitely better for you because organic farming techniques do not generate as much harmful agricultural run-off which poisons the water you drink. Ecology is a very complicated field, and we all have to think more deeply about issues such as this, rather than simply taking them at face value.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:09 pm |
  70. Shawn Malachovsky

    Jack this study is nonsense, food sprayed with toxins cannot be as healthy as naturally grown non toxic food. Same thing with organic dairy products like eggs and milk, cows and chickens that are cooped up in small pens and cages given antibiotics and growth hormones cannot produce similar or better products than free range cows and chickens that are natural and healthy. The nutritional value measuring vitamins and minerals are not the only mark of making something more healthy because that does not measure the toxins, antibiotics, hormones that are passing through these products. It also does not measure the environmental footprint/impact that these mass produced non organic products have. So I'm sure that if a study looks into more considerations they will find Organic is a better for society and of course we do not know who paid for this specific study and have nothing to compare it with.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  71. Jim Reid

    A friend, who raised lettuce, decided to try farming using the
    organic method. He found the lettuce was contaminated and would not feed it to his own family. Organic uses manure for fertilizer.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  72. Henry Ross

    Whether the food was better for you wasnt the real problem. Organic foods that dont use pesticides and etc lessen your chance of being part of a study years later that says this once safe pesticide causes (insert sickness).

    But i can say for certian that home grown oranges and etc. taste way better than what i get in the store. They actually have flavor and are ripe!!cant argue with that

    July 30, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  73. Kris

    It's only typical that a Government Study would indicate that organic food does not make you healthier. Clearly this is a money sham to get the people to buy poison food and keep the gov. on top . Who believes study's from the gov. anyway ? it's not the 50's -I am Canadian

    July 30, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  74. Jeff, Marietta, GA

    Jack, I buy regular food. It is cheaper. But, when's the last time you heard of organic food containing salmonella or e. coli? If you include stats about 'regular' food vs 'organic' food and contamination like this, which kind of food is more healthy? Organic food also tends to be locally grown, so you're supporting local farmers instead of agribusiness. Expense occurs because local growers don't get the cost savings of bulk.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  75. Carol Lowe

    Dear Jack:

    It means we've been hoodwinked!

    Carol in Tucson

    July 30, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  76. Ray

    Organic is not rocket science, it is all about not putting the chemicals into the system. Less chemicals is healthier, maybe not more nutritious. Bottom line to I want to breath fresh air or suck on an exhaust pipe. Same thing!

    July 30, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  77. shannon

    Some foods are better than others to buy organic. Sustainable, local, and organic products are not only better for us but for the planet as well. Most importantly we must remember "You are what you eat."

    July 30, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  78. Lori

    Organic food no healthier than regular food?

    Organic food = HYPE: that is what it means.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  79. Laural Ayala

    I only thought Organic is healthier because there's no pesticides on it and no growth enhancers. But that is exactly what makes it healthier!

    July 30, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  80. Michelle

    Just proves that Americans will fall for anything as long as we think it is going to separate us from the "others". I think this is HILARIOUS!!!

    July 30, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  81. Lee Eberhart

    Although the vitamins and minerals found in organic food may be similar to regular food, what is important is what it does not contain: organic food does not contain hormones and pesticide residues. In this regard, organic food IS healthier.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  82. Wyn

    Nothing. People will continue to pay more for the organic brand because it gives them a sense of superiority to others. But that has happened in America with most everything from cars to clothes. Food is now just joining the trend.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  83. RICH

    Question; Do you wash the outside of your fruits and vegetable before eating them? Yes. Why? because you don't want to ingest the dirt and other filthy residues. Well what about the inside of the fruit? How do you wash that from unhealty residue of chemicals and pesticides? You don't. You buy organic which is already cleaner on the inside. The nutrional value is a lame argument and is not the primary reason people buy organic. The key point is that organic farming practices provide a cleaner product on the inside which in turn keeps you cleaner on your inside from the pesticide contamination that will go into your body.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  84. Alex

    So the environmentalists and the animal rights crowd were wrong again. Why are we surprised. Just throw this article in the stack with refutations of "global cooling", "rainforest depletion", and the various extinction scares in the last 30 years. Can they get anything right? It kinda makes you wonder about their other causes.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  85. trekgirl

    Of course organic foods, grown without pesticides, genetically modified seeds, and added hormones are better for you than standard farmed products. Would you rather eat a head of lettuce without or without DDT or Round Up pesticides? Chemical free is the only way to eat.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  86. Allen

    Jack It is basically like everything else. They cheated on the organic laws. Now point of origin Laws lit 3 countries. Not What it was designed for. The Organics were better but now who knows. Allen in Minnesota

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  87. Gretchen Fuller

    Organic food may be more expensive and may not be more nutritious but it sure does taste better!!

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  88. James Spada

    I don't think the report stated that organic food wasn't better for you, just that it isn't more nutritious. I always thought that organic foods were better because they didn't have pesticides either in or on them. This report doesn't change that, so I'm sticking with organic. Who wants bug killer in their bodies?

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  89. Jennifer

    Huh, I guess they are one of the lobbiest for non-organic. I truly believe organic foods are healthy and have ethics. Why? Have anyone seen food inc? I got to say, it really open my eye and everything starts making sense... 10 yrs ago.. my mom mentioned to me:" Have you notice nowadays, girls who are age 12 and up are developing much sooner?" That is because of all the hormones added in meat and food fed to animals to make them grow faster.. that means us eating it will do the same. Is that normal?

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  90. Peter M

    The study is extremely flawed. It does not acxclunt for the pollution, industrial effluent as well as chemicals found in sprays and fertilizer. All these find their way into food and are harmful. Any researcher who does not see this is a con.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  91. greenjenny

    It means nothing. There has been a well-documented drop-off in the nutritional value of foods over the past 50 years, but that has more to do with hybridization geared to factory farming. If organic farmers are using the same breeds of plants as industrial farmers then no, there isn't going to be a difference.

    Personally, I never ate organic for any imagined nutritional benefits or even because of pesticide residue. I eat organic when I can because it is a more environmentally sustainable method, and because it's better for small farmers. Period.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  92. Keith Waymark

    Science can prove anything it wants to. Logic has it's own domain. Of course organic food is better. The body is so complex ... how can one test the positive or negative affects of food. One only needs to eat organic food, free-run chicken and eggs, pastured beef to know they are better.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  93. Matt

    I'm confused what you are trying to say.

    Did anyone in their right mind think that there were more nutrients or vitamins in organic food? I thout the whole point was that people who eat organic are avoiding potentially harmful chemicals and pesticides.

    I don't buy organic foods and in the long run it doesn't matter to me but at least let us be honest with the material.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  94. oti barrow

    healthier or not healthier,organic taste better and has a longer shelf life.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  95. Emma, San Luis Obispo, CA


    Organic means NO chemical pesticides are used which in some cases have been linked to health issues. I live in an agricultural area where strawberries and snap peas are grown in CA......people are constantly complaing of respiratory issues every year from the chemicals used because the farms are near residential areas.
    So organic may not be nutritionally better but they are safer!

    I wonder who sponsored this study......do you know?

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  96. Murray Edelman

    Where do you think problems like the swine flue come from? Unsanitary, factory farms are responsible for spreading disease. Organic farms will necessarily result in a healthier environment, which, in the end, is also healthy for humans.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  97. Tiffany Y. in California

    Doesn't surprise me that it's not healthier. I don't eat it because I think it's healthier for me directly. I buy and eat organic becuase I KNOW it's healthier for everyone, planet, animals, marine life, the air and water. We can each make a difference and this is my small way of making a better world for my kids.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  98. KG

    Organic foods are a marketing gimmick. We do so many things that really are not beneficial. Serious advertising by the Organic food companies were able to change habits and make billions even when they do not offer any benefit.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  99. Glenn

    The study simply looked at the nutritional differences between organically grown foods and non organically grown foods. I could have saved them a lot of money and trouble. Growing something without pesticides and chemical fertilizers is not going to fundamentally change the vitamin or nutrient content of a food. What it will do is keep those chemicals out of our bodies and out of the ecosystem. Duh.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  100. Allen

    Jack It is basically like everything else. They cheated on the organic laws. Now point of origin Laws list 3 countries. Not What it was designed for. The Organics were better but now who knows. Allen in Minnesota

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  101. Ray Victory

    Vero Beach, FL
    By certain metrics it may be comparable to commercial produce, but it is grown without pesticides, treated more carefully in shipment and display and usually fresher. And... And... And... It TASTES Better. So if I'm feeling phat I'll go for it.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  102. Brent Schwartz from Newark, Delaware


    When there is a study commissioned and carried out by a legitmately independent, non-profit organization, then we'll talk. Until then, I'm not going to believe a study commissioned by a government, private company, or anyone who has rooting interest, as being 100% legitimate and unbiased.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  103. Nathan

    this study is fairly narrow, and the benefits of organic farming should not only be viewed through the lens of nutrition. It benefits soil, animals, and the environment. So called conventional farming utilizes a lot of petroleum based pesticides and fertilizers which can easily be replaced by natural processes, indeed, 150 years ago that's how farming was done, a return to simpler, more sustainable farming is definitely a net plus for us as a society.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  104. Ketch

    It means that if I could spread some of that "organic fertilizer" on my lawn, I'd have the greenest grass in St Charles County!

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  105. Diana (New York)

    I think for people who prefer organic, it really is more a safety issue. One can assume crops grown using no pesticides would be safer, yes? Meat sans antibiotics safer, yes? Healthier? The study is probably correct. Still...isn't safer a good thing?

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  106. T from CT

    I dont buy it. I don't think the study was done over a long enough time period to make this claim with certainty. fertilizers, chemicals, preservatives, certainly don't enhance your health in the long run.?


    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  107. James

    Who actually thought that organic food had more nutritional value? That's absurd. Organic food is produced with less pesticides and environmental impact and is not as brutal and cruel on livestock as factory farming.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  108. Jhund (Atlanta)

    Whereas the foods may not be more nutritious, they are less detrimental to your body due to the fact that they don't contain the added pesticides. That's the benefit right there. It's addition by subtraction. Just keep it normal.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  109. Nita Harper


    Organic food never claimed to be healthier for consumer, but instead, it is healthier for the ENVIRONMENT, as it is not grown with pesticides and chemicals that can harm bees, or get into the ground water.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  110. Steve

    I think the point is not so much that it is healther, but that it has no pesticides and harmful chemicals in it. Therefore it is less harmful.

    Lawrence, Kansas

    July 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  111. Jim Reid

    Organic faming uses excrement to fertilize. The danger of
    contamination is a possibliity.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  112. Maleka

    Well Jack, I started eating Organic food about a year ago and my entire family could feel the difference in our overall health, we even lost weight. Now that times are a little more difficult for us we eat regular food and can definately tell the difference in our bodies.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  113. mel in NC.

    To us, it's about the pesticides, not so much any difference in nutrients.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  114. JustMe

    There are many things to consider when buying "certified organic" including GMO's. I have read enough information including facts to know there is also studies that clearly show many certified organic foods are healthier considering all things including GMO's but I also know some certified organic foods do not use the same high standards as others do. I will pass up the GMO's on my plate thank you! JustMe in NC

    July 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  115. DYlan Skriloff

    As a long-time consumer of organic products as well as someone who worked in an organic store for four years I am surprised by the study's findings. I would think that for one thing, cancer rates would be lower for those who do not eat food tainted with pesticides. Another thing to look at when considering the value of organic food, is health of the land, does chemical farming destroy soil health?

    July 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  116. SHARON: Anchorage, Alaska

    It means people with higher standards for what they put in their or their children’s bodies can continue to make a better choice than the average world populace. Organic food does not use steroids, antibiotics & other drugs on livestock that humans place in the food chain; thus it helps to decrease human weight gain, lessen antibiotic resistance and maintain a standard of humane treatment for animals & our wonderful earth.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  117. Karl from SF, CA

    Well, I guess I was smart to buy regular food all these years and save the difference. I would say that if organic food sales decline as a result of this stuidy, the organic farmers might want to consider going back to old fashion farming and not ask for a bailout.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  118. Mark Novaky

    This study really isn't a surprise, a tomato is a tomato, and a chicken is a chicken.The area where organics have the edge is in inspection and not letting 'marginal' animals thru as 'safe enough' If the USDA required tighter standards for mainstream food, it would diminish Organics appeal significantly. I personally grow Tomatoes and use a chemical fertilizer along with 'natural' materials, I don't use pesticides.There is ZERO danger to humans from chemical fertilizer, yet I guess somehow my tomatoes are 'Not Organic' . I don't know what to think is 'Organic' about being safer for humans(as it is for me) or is it about some over arching 'Environmentalist' ideals?
    BTW:My feriler doesn't 'run' off and isn't polluting a river or anything.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  119. Dan P

    I don't think it is a question of nutrition for most people that buy organic. I think most people would rather not have all the pesticides and fertilizers in their produce. They don't want antibiotics and growth hormones (not to mention all the pesticides & fertilizers from the feed) in their meats.
    People just want better quality, and cleaner, food.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  120. suziQinOKC

    As a person who is allergic to the preservatives and nitrates in food, the organic food may be higher, but it relieves a lot of health issues. I, for one, will continue to buy organic and foods with no preservatives in them. Thank you, food industry, for making more foods without preservatives and unhealthy chemicals.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  121. Carol

    One study should not constitute a new paradigm. Who funded it? Monsanto? I try to buy organic when I can afford it because it is better for the soil, earthworms, etc. And I do not like to be exposed to unnecessary chemicals.
    Cleveland, OH

    July 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  122. Jim

    Well 4 years ago when I started buying organic foods it wasn't because I thought it was better for you in the sense of nutrition, I get it because it has not been chemically altered and no pesticides.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  123. Grace Kolmam

    All those fights with my husband because I was spending more than I should in my groceries shopping were for nothing? I am outrageous and disapointed. Now I have to deal with this guy here at home making fun of me. This is not fair!

    July 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  124. Anthony Adoghe. Amsterdam, Toronto

    Jack, it is no news that Oganic food has no advantage over regular food, but the effect on health should be studied; what do americans have uneven distribution of fat and increasing cancer rate, is there a link to organic food?

    July 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  125. Tony

    An organic pepper might not be any more nutritious for a human than a non-organic pepper, but the soil where the organic pepper is grown will not be polluted with nearly as many chemicals and 'unnatural' fertilizers as a non organic plant's plot. Processing and shipping chemicals is an expensive and unhealthy business, when analyzing benefits of food the big picture needs to be remembered.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  126. j

    There is a LOT more to the organic movement than this story...'nutritious' is a gray area. Does organic corn contain a higher level of nutritional value than conventional corn? Probably not. This is not the reasoning behind organic food. Organic foods do not contain the extra's that conventionally grown foods have, like hydrogenation, artificial sweeteners, chemical preservatives and such. You'll get your vitamins and minerals with conventional food, but you'll also get potentially cancer causing chemicals dumped into your system. Organic farming also addresses environment sustainability which you can't measure by reading the Nutritional Facts label. This story covers a minute amount of information concerning organics, and it's a poor one at that.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  127. BeJa Thomas

    What I am searching for is fresh food that has not be sprayed with chemicals and I know where to buy it. I also no longer eat beef because of having read about the condition in which the cattle are held as they are being fattened up for slaughter. No wonder there have been salmonella outbreaks. Individual farmers produce is anyones best bet as well as individual's turkey/chicken farms.

    The FDA really does not protect us, we have to investigate on our own.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  128. Jeannie Benner

    I live near Immokalee, Florida and remember quite well how sickened field workers became from the pesticides used on the vegetables.

    I will continue to grow my vegetables without pesticides.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:16 pm |