The abstract of a new meta-study, Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?: A Systematic Review has two sentences in its conclusion. Guess which one is making the headlines?
The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods. Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.That's right, it's the first one. The Stanford press release quotes lead author Dena Bravata, MD, MS, as saying:
There isn’t much difference between organic and conventional foods, if you’re an adult and making a decision based solely on your health.The full study is hidden behind a pay wall, making it even less likely that people would read the whole thing before commenting on it. No doubt, this study will have many people, even parents, breathing a sigh of relief. Finally, justification to save a few cents by buying conventionally raised food so they can use the savings for... what? What is more important that feeding your family food that has about one-third less risk of having pesticides or fierce bacteria on it? Even if you think these risks are fine for your own family, wouldn't you be willing to waste a little less food so you could afford the type that doesn't give farmers cancer and their children horrific birth defects?
The study's poor quality, obvious misrepresentations, and biased media presentation all points to an anti-organic agenda. And lo, when I started digging, I found connections to Cargill, Monsanto, McDonalds, and more. Don't let Big Ag and Big Food tell you that organic doesn't matter.
The meta-study says:
* There have been no long-term studies of health outcomes of populations consuming predominantly organic versus conventionally produced food controlling for socioeconomic factors
* Our results should be interpreted with caution
* Our comprehensive review ... found limited evidence for the superiority or organic foods
In fact, the peer-reviewed study is full of good news about the health and value of organic food, even while it admits repeatedly that more studies are needed. In other words, there's evidence for choosing organic food even if you only care about safety and nutrition, but the authors don't think it's overwhelming evidence.
So why did the Stanford press release and related interviews imply that only chumps buy organic? After all, as they repeated said, they didn't take any outside money.
But what about the inside money? The money used to fund the researchers and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford? A simple look at FSI's 2011 annual report shows that it is funded by Cargill and others who have a strong financial interest in Monsanto, McDonalds, Walmart, and other businesses that profit from industrial food practices. Bradford M. Freeman is a top one percenter in the Muckety 400, with strong connections to the Republican Party. How strong? He was George Bush's cat sitter!
Read more and vote in my Huffington Post blog post and slide show, which has an illustration of the relationships involved, supporting links, plus pictures of a gorgeous farm and a cute kid with an adorable puppy.