Is organic food healthier?

Food and nutrition

Published on 1 July 2018
by Isabelle Huot

Organic food is more popular than ever. Organic food is 20%-40% more expensive than conventionally grown crops or livestock and many wonder whether it’s really worth the price ticket. Though the benefits of organic food on the environment are widely recognized, those on our health are less clear.

Rules for organic production

Organic food is sustainable, meaning it reduces environmental impacts to a minimum while promoting food security for future generations. The production specifications behind the “organic” label are comprehensive. Pesticides, herbicides and synthetic, sewage sludge and GMO seed fertilizers are all prohibited.

Is it any healthier?

Studies have not demonstrated whether organically cultivated fruits and vegetables are higher in vitamins and minerals than those cultivated conventionally. Some studies reported a higher concentration of antioxidants, but even then, this data was not supported in all studies. What we do know for sure is that it is better to eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables, because their nutritional benefits outweigh the risks associated with pesticide residues. We can also minimize our exposure to pesticides by properly washing and scrubbing our fruits and vegetables. Since 2004, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has published a list of the twelve most contaminated plants (Dirty Dozen). If you decide to buy organic, you can prioritize your purchases based on this list.

Isabelle Huot
Doctor in nutrition