Organic Market Reacts to National Health Study

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COLUMBIA - Eating organic fruits and vegetables are better for you, right?  Well, according to a new report from Stanford University, that isn't necessarily the case.

Researchers aggregated information from more than 230 other published studies on organic and conventional produce consumption to reach this conclusion. This also includes studies on food contamination due to pesticides. Stanford released its report in Tuesday's issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The study's conclusion states "comprehensive review of the published literature on the comparative health outcomes, nutrition, and safety of organic and conventional foods identified limited evidence for the superiority of organic foods." As a result, it did not find "marked" health benefits for eating organic foods.

Co-owner of Clovers Natural Market Patty Clover disagrees with these findings. "I hope it would not discourage from buying organic," Clover said.  She cites a separate study by Rutgers University in the past that did find health benefits to eating organic.

Linda Pattie said she has been shopping at Clovers for about four years. She also said the study will not turn her away from buying organic in the future. "A study can be made to say anything, and I know just from my own experience of eating organic food that it tastes better to me. It's not that much more expensive," Pattie said.

The Stanford study found conventional fruits and vegetables did have more pesticide residue, but most levels were under Environmental Protection Agency safety limits. The study also revealed that ripeness also plays a role in produce nutrients. If a fruit is more ripe after growing with pesticides, the study found it could have more vitamins.

Cassie McClellan, a registered dietitian with HyVee, said she recommends buying conventional produce for its nutritional value. While she does agree organic produce will have less pesticides, consumers can eliminate most of them by washing the produce.

"If nutritional quality is your main concern, then it is really not necessary to buy organic produce because the conventionally grown produce has the same nutrients as the organically grown," McClellan said.

Despite these advantages to conventional produce, organic produce may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and organic chicken and pork may reduce exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.