Posted Oct 15, 2012 by Gym Source in Health and Wellness and tagged healthy lifestyle, Nutrition, organic food.

Organic vs. Conventional: The Debate Rages On

Have you ever wondered if the organic food you eat is actually healthier than conventional food?  The answer may not be as clear as you think.

The implied health benefit in organic foods has impacted consumer choices dating back to the early 1940’s.  Now, some seventy years later, health advocates and fitness enthusiasts, like us here at Gym Source, continue to debate the real impact organically grown foods have on our health.

A recent study conducted at Stanford University  has reinvigorated the debate of organic foods versus conventionally farmed foods.  The debate includes points ranging from the health benefit organic foods provide as well as the impact conventional farming has on our environment.

Here are some of the main components of the recent study:

Dairy

Dairy is often perceived as one of the more chemically enhanced divisions of agriculture; Stanford’s investigation revolved around whether or not the growth hormones typically given to cows can be unhealthy over extended periods of consumption.

So did they find this to be true? The short answer is no. Unhealthy or not, they did find that organic milk contained a substantially higher level of Omega-3 fatty acids. Health officials encourage regular consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids, which promote a healthy heart.

The study also concluded that there are rather high levels of Omega-6 fatty acids in conventional milk, which health officials know to cause things like heart disease. While this is reason for concern, Omega-6 fatty acids are still naturally occurring and hormonal-related toxicity of conventional milk has not been completely validated, despite the presence of Omega-6s.

Bacteria & Pesticides

As an additional component of the study, researchers also found that eating organic foods decreases the chance of ingesting potentially harmful anti-biotic resistance bacteria. These types of bacteria have been known to promote hysteria amongst doctors through their ability to resist modern day anti-biotic treatment.

And let’s not forget pesticides; organic crops yield much lower levels (if any) of pesticide residue, which can in turn cause ailments as serious as cancer.

Health & Safety

Ideally, the study was intended to make sense of what previous studies had found regarding the characteristics of both organic and conventional foods. Pesticide residue, anti-biotic resistant bacteria and conventional milk by-products are a few great starting points. However, where they still seemingly fall short is in their acknowledgement of the key safety issues presented by each one of these components.

Not only do organically farmed goods and conventionally farmed goods affect our health and safety, but there is also the issue of the effects each farming style has on our environment. Do organic vs. conventional farming techniques have similar affects to our environment and soil as they do on our bodies? Do organically farmed materials also bolster a healthier planet by reducing the amount of toxins that are constantly being pumped into our soil?

Stanford’s study “tiptoes” around the environmental concerns and does not provide a clear answer to these questions. There are too many variables in the equation to compare farm to farm to properly draw any correlations.

Does Stanford’s Study Hold Water?

Amongst a seemingly never-ending debate of organic vs. conventional, it would appear there are obvious benefits to consuming organic goods. However, consuming more or all conventionally farmed foods over organically farmed foods does not imply that a consumer is destined for an unhealthy life. Moderation is the key in all diets and will truly dictate ‘healthy’ over ‘unhealthy.’

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