There are many aspects to consider when comparing organic to conventional produce including: affordability, pesticide residues, heavy metals, nutrient levels and the health of agricultural workers. In this second part of the story we discuss last two of these topics and draw our conclusions.
There have been contradictory findings on whether nutrient levels are higher in organically grown produce. The same Swedish review found higher levels of toxic heavy metals in conventionally grown produce were not higher in organically grown foods, with the exception of phenolic compounds such as flavonoids, tannins, stilbenes, curcuminoids, coumarins, lignans, quinones, which have wide-ranging and significant benefits for human health.
Astudy from the University of Barcelona found higher levels of phenolic compounds (which play an important role in cancer prevention and treatment) in organic tomatoes compared to conventional tomatoes.
Health of agricultural workers
The recent lawsuit against Monsanto for their weed killer, RoundUp, significantly contributing to the development of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in a former groundskeeper in California has re–sparked the debate around pesticides and the health of agricultural workers. As organic food uses completely natural or no pesticides, there is significantly less risk to the health of agricultural workers.
The bottom line
The best advice we could give our readers is to buy organic if or when it’s possible and affordable. But otherwise stick to conventional produce. After all, we have mountains of evidence a higher intake of fruit and vegetables protects us against everything from cancer to cardiovascular disease to menopausal hot flushes… and virtually none of the participants in these studies were consuming all, mostly, or even some, organically grown produce.
Buying organic when you can is an investment in your health, and the health of the people who toil every day to grow our food. We also recommend you do some research to ensure the organic food you are sourcing is local and genuine.
You can also grow your own fruit and vegetables in a backyard garden or a micro garden. We’ll focus on micro garden in another article soon!
You can read Robyn’s full article about organic v conventional produce here.