In 2012, a Stanford University meta-analysis of 240 studies comparing organic to conventionally grown produce, found that organic was far less contaminated with pesticides. Two years later, European scientists have published their own meta-analysis of 343 studies in the British Journal of Nutrition. These most recent findings give us yet another reason to go organic. Not only does organic produce contain far fewer pesticides, but it is also richer in antioxidant content!
The Problem with Pesticides
This most recent review found that organic produce has on average 48% lower levels of cadmium, a toxic carcinogen according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Cadmium is found in cigarette smoke, and as noted by the EPA causes cancer and kidney disease. What is a non-smoker’s main source of cadmium exposure? Food, where cadmium is found aplenty! The authors of the study noted:
“The frequency of occurrence of pesticide residues was found to be four times higher in conventional crops…”
It’s imperative to limit pesticide exposure as much as possible, and choosing organic gives you a leg up. Pesticide Action Network North America reports that exposure to chemicals and toxins starts in the womb, and stays with us throughout the course of our lives! We just need to look at the health of the farm workers responsible for spraying fruits and vegetables with agricultural chemicals. According to the nonprofit organization Farmworker Justice, farm workers who work with pesticides contract significantly more chemical-related diseases (including respiratory conditions, migraines, cancer, and reproductive problems) than any other workers in America.
Go Organic and Amp Up Your Antioxidant Status
Since the 1920s, the nutrient content of our produce has dramatically declined. The reason is that fruits and vegetables depend on nutrient uptake from the soil, but industrial agricultural methods have destroyed the soil microbes that transfer minerals to plants, leaving our soil pretty much devoid of nutrients. Dr. August Dunning, chief science officer and co-owner of Eco Organics notes that in 1988 you’d have to eat 26 apples to match the nutritional content of 1 apple from 1950! More than 20 years later, and the nutritional content of produce has only gotten worse.
That’s why the antioxidant boost from organic fruits and vegetables is particularly significant. Findings indicate that organic fruits and vegetables contain 18-69% more antioxidants than conventionally grown produce does. And it’s not just this one study praising higher antioxidants in organic produce. A 2010 study published in PLOS ONE reported that organic strawberries were far more nutrient-dense than non-organic strawberries. Not to mention, strawberries feature high on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen list, which notes the most contaminated fruits and vegetables you shouldn’t buy conventionally grown.
Researchers explain the health benefits of antioxidants, writing:
“Many of these compounds have previously been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers, in dietary intervention and epidemiological studies.”
That’s an infinite number of reasons to go organic!