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The jury is out...

A recent US study suggested that, in general, organic produce offers no discernible nutritional or health benefits over conventionally produced foods.

Since the economic downturn, the organic market in the UK has experienced a significant decline across most categories, as many of its previously loyal consumers began to question whether more expensive organically produced food actually delivered its purported nutritional and environmental benefits.

A report in Food Navigator mentioned recent work by US researchers, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which seriously questioned the widely held mantra that organic foods are healthier and more nutritious. The study pulled together results from 200 nutrition studies and concluded that, while there may be specific exceptions, the general case that organic represented a healthier and more nutritious food choice could not be sustantiated. The researchers did concede that, due to the production methods used by organic farmers, organic food choices meant less risk of exposure to pesticides or antibiotic resistant bacteria, but controls exercised in the conventional production of food reduced these risks to minimal levels.

Compassion in World Farming published a study in June, which made specific claims for the nutritional and health benefits of a number of organic and extensively produced livestock products, as indicated by the report’s title: Nutritional Benefits of Higher Welfare Products

In particular, the report highlighted that certain types of chicken and beef had a lower fat content and that certain types of beef, poultry, eggs, lamb and milk had a higher Omega 3 content. They also suggested that certain types of extensively reared pork had a higher Vitamin E and iron content than pork from more conventionally produced pigs.