Is Organic Worth It?

 are organic ingredients worth it

Are organic ingredients worth the higher price tag? Or, are they just more expensive? Recent scientific studies published in top-tier journals demonstrate that organic production can boost key nutrients in foods making thereby making the purchase of some organic ingredients worth it.

A 2016 British Journal of Nutrition study shows that organic dairy and meat contain about 50% more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional counterparts [1]. Organic farming practices encourages animals to forage on grasses rich in omega-3s, which then end up in dairy and meats. The findings from this study are based on data pooled from more than 200 European studies; similar studies conducted in the United States reinforce these findings [2]. Omega-3s are linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease, improved neurological development and function, and better immune function. 

It’s not just organic meat and dairy that yield more nutritious products. A 2014 review of over 300 studies found that organic fruit and vegetable crops — ranging from carrots and broccoli to apples and blueberries — have substantially higher concentrations of a range of antioxidants and other potentially beneficial compounds [3]. For instance, organic crops had about 50 percent more anthocyanins and flavonols compared with conventional crops. Anthocyanins are compounds that give fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, their blue, purple and red hues. Consumption of these compounds is linked to a variety of benefits, including anti-inflammatory effects. Flavonol compounds — found widely in fruits and vegetables — have also been shown to protect cells from damage, which can help fend off disease.

 are organic ingredients worth it

While more nutrition is always better, there is also a good reason to seek organics when possible. In its 2017 report, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that almost 70 percent of 48 non-organic samples tested positive for at least one pesticide. (In many cases, the numbers were much higher.) For example - A single strawberry sample harbored 20 different pesticide residues. To help you make informed decisions at the grocery store, the EWC puts together a list of the most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables (aka the “dirty dozen”) as well as those non-organic foods least likely to contain pesticide residue (aka the “clean fifteen”). If you’re on a budget or your selection is limited, these lists help you focus your attention on avoiding the most contaminated fruits and veggies.

[1] Średnicka-Tober D, Barański M, Seal CJ, et. al. (2016). Higher PUFA and n-3 PUFA, conjugated linoleic acid, α-tocopherol and iron, but lower iodine and selenium concentrations in organic milk: a systematic literature review and meta- and redundancy analyses.Br J Nutr. Mar 28;115(6):1043-60.

[2] Benbrook CM, Butler G, Latif MA, et. al (2013).  Organic production enhances milk nutritional quality by shifting fatty acid composition: a United States-wide, 18-month study. PLoS One. 2013 Dec 9;8(12):e82429

[3] Barański M, Srednicka-Tober D, Volakakis N, et. al. (2014). Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. Br J Nutr. 2014 Sep 14;112(5):794-811.