The notion that organic foods are healthier is undeniably appealing. However, there is little evidence to back this up, with some studies showing higher quantities of particular nutrients in various fruits and vegetables and others finding no difference. A study of 237 studies discovered that, while organic product contains lower pesticide residues than conventional produce, there are no obvious nutritional benefits to buying organic produce.
What about the health advantages? Surprisingly, despite fear-mongering headlines, there is no proof that consuming organic food lowers your risk of cancer. According to a 2018 study at the University of Paris, those who eat organic foods are 25% less likely to develop cancer. However, this figure is highly misleading since it refers to relative risk (the risk of those who consume the most organic food compared to those who consume the least) rather than absolute risk (the risk of high organic consumers compared to the general population).
In fact, the absolute risk in this study was negligible, at only 0.6 percent. To put it another way, this study did not establish that pesticide residues cause cancer! It was an observational study that used a nutritional questionnaire to ask participants what they ate. The researchers did not collect data on people’s pesticide residue intake. Association does not establish causality! People that eat organic food tend to be wealthier and live healthier lives, therefore survey results may be skewed as a result.
Furthermore, a larger study published in 2014 found no reduction in cancer risk connected with eating organic food.
It is important to note that pesticide residue levels in non-organic produce are strictly regulated in the United Kingdom. If you’re concerned about pesticide residues, a thorough rinse under running tap water, as well as peeling your fruit and vegetables, will significantly lower levels.
What we do know is that organic farming offers significant environmental benefits, such as reducing pollution and combating climate change by utilising sustainable systems such as crop rotation and animal and plant manures. It also promotes biodiversity and wildlife, and animals are housed in more natural, free-roaming environments. Organic foods, on the other hand, are generally more expensive than non-organic foods — a reflection of the greater production expenses – so whether you buy organic or not is a personal choice.