By Shane Heaton, Biological Farmers of Australia
Scientific research confirms the common belief organic food is healthier than regular products, despite repeated claims there's no difference, organic experts say. Shoppers who buy more expensive organic food do so for many reasons, including a belief it's better for you, wanting to avoid pesticides, and wanting to be kinder to animals and the environment. Yet many official food bodies claim there's no evidence to support the view that organic food is better for you.
"In fact," says Shane Heaton, nutritionist and author of Organic Farming, Food Quality and Human Health, "there's a mountain of evidence, if you care to take a look."
The scientific evidence shows that organic food is, on average, more nutritious than non-organic food. Because artificial fertilization produces lush growth and swells non-organic plants and produce with more water, there is more 'dry matter' (i.e. food), weight for weight, in organic food. Partly because of this and for other reasons too, there are higher levels of minerals and vitamin C in organic produce.
Heaton is an internationally recognised expert on organic food and laments that many of his colleagues in nutrition refuse to advocate organics (even though they eat it themselves) because of a mistaken belief that its higher price may lead to reduced fruit and vegetable consumption.
"But it's a false assumption," says Heaton. "The typical household spends far more on junk food than on fruit and veg, more on alcohol than fruit and veg, more on take-out than fruit and veg, and five times more on recreation than on fruit and veg. It's all a matter of priority and it's simply not true that people can't afford organic food."