‘Organic’ a waste of money? Depends on your reason for buying it


The American public has been hammered for years by seemingly everyone from First Lady Michelle Obama to Dr. Oz that buying organic produce is the way to go. Many of us have dutifully complied, even as it left a sizable dent in our bank account.

Now a new study suggests that buying organic might not be worth the money. The research, out of Stanford University, found that organic produce isn’t necessarily healthier than more conventional produce.

Consumers might well ask: Can’t all you “experts” with your fancy degrees and titles agree on anything?

Further, although the study found that organic produce carried fewer pesticides, the levels detected in the conventionally grown produce were well within federally established safety guidelines, the study says.


The upshot? “There isn’t much difference between organic and conventional foods, if you’re an adult and making a decision based solely on your health,” study senior author Dr. Dena Bravata of Stanford’s Center for Health Policy said in a university statement.

Instead of clarifying the issue of organics for the public, this latest study might complicate it, with some saying that the findings miss the point and actually pose a red herring for consumers.

One of the most recognized voices in this arena, author Michael Pollan, tweeted that nutritional questions are not necessarily the reason for the “buy organic” movement. There’s a long list of reasons to go organic, including limiting exposure to pesticides and a way of farming that is more environmentally friendly. (The Atlantic posted a reaction piece online titled “Organic Food Isn’t More Nutritious, But That Isn’t the Point.”)

Take the temperature over on Twitter, and you’ll find many blaming not just the study but the media as well for allegedly distorting the study’s findings with an overly negative headline and stories that miss the nuance.

Our sister blog, Booster Shots, delved further into the study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, and its findings.

The study is only the latest in a long list of seemingly contradictory health news, made more confusing by the media’s desire to boil months and years of research into a single headline.


One day, coffee is good for you, the next it’s bad. One day eggs are good for you, the next day egg yolks are right up there with smoking(!).

One finding that we won’t argue with: that fried food isn’t always bad for you -- especially when that chicken is fried in heart-friendly olive oil or sunflower oil.


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