After analysing all available evidence from the past 50 years, a study commissioned by the UK government’s Food Standards Agency has come to the conclusion that organic food is no healthier (in terms of nutritional value and any extra health benefits) than ‘ordinary’ food.
The most comprehensive review in this area that has been carried out to date […] concluded that there are no important differences in nutrition content between organic and conventionally produced food.
[…] It’s a fact that conventional production methods permit the use of a wider range of pesticides than organic. That said, some pesticides can be used in organic production.
[…] To me, the main take-home message from this report is that in order to eat a healthy diet it doesn’t matter if it’s made up of organic or conventionally produced food. Surely that’s good news for all of us?
What [this study] shows is that there is little, if any, nutritional difference between organic and conventionally produced food and that there is no evidence of additional health benefits from eating organic food.
The Soil Association (an independent body that certifies organic food) didn’t like the conclusions reached, but made a good point about the study:
Without large-scale, longitudinal research it is difficult to come to far-reaching clear conclusions on this, which was acknowledged by the authors of the FSA review.
It’s worth noting that there were a small number of nutritional differences found between organic and conventionally produced food but that these differences were “not large enough to be of any public health relevance”. It’s also useful to realise that people buy organic food for myriad other reasons.
For a short summation of the argument between the various parties interested in this research (specifically, the FSA and Soil Organisation), the BBC has a well-balanced news item.
Update: Seed Magazine‘s look at the issue is also worth a read.