September 6, 2012

Eat organic? Why?

Many of you may have heard or read about a new study out of Stanford that examines whether or not there are significant nutritional benefits of eating organically produced food.

Michael Pollan's comments are worth reading and put the Stanford study in perspective.

What makes sense to me is following what is called the "precautionary principle". We know that chemicals in foods can have adverse effects on humans, particularly vulnerable populations like children. We know that pesticides and some chemical fertilizers can have adverse impacts on farm workers and their children (read about Dr. Brenda Eskenazi's CHAMACOS study out of UC Berkeley).

In general, I advise people to include more fruits and vegetables in their diet. Eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. Then, they should consider organic if they can, particularly for certain fruits and vegetables that have been found to have more pesticide residue. Before heading to the farmers market, a good place to check is the " dirty dozen" list from the Environmental Working Group.

The precautionary principle was best described by an Amish farmer speaking at a large conference in Kenyon, Ohio. He asked the audience how many people flew to Ohio. Nearly every hand went up. He asked if each of us wanted only the best jet fuel to be used in our airplanes. We all shook our heads up and down. He then asked "Why would we feed our children anything less than the best"?