Friday, January 12, 2024

Is Organic Produce Worth The Extra Expense?

At first glance, the idea that organically grown produce is healthier than conventionally grown makes a lot of sense. If organic products cost the same amount of money as conventionally grown, it would be a pretty easy decision for most of us. However, this is not the case. Organic produce can cost twice as much as conventionally grown. This begs the question: Is it worth the extra money? Let’s look at what the research says:

Study #1

Stanford University conducted a review of the research literature that included 240 studies on organically grown foods (Reference 1). The Authors concluded that there was no convincing evidence that organic produce was more nutritious or would result in significantly improved health outcomes.

Study #2

A research group from a British medical school conducted a similar investigation (Reference 2). This review included a variety of outcomes and 12 separate influential studies. The researchers concluded that evidence was lacking for any nutrition related health effects of organically grown food.

Study #3

In 2021, the USDA conducted its annual testing of pesticide residues on foods available for sale in the U.S. (Reference 3). This included 2.7 million analyses.

-24% of foods tested had no detectable residues. 

-99% of foods were below the EPA’s tolerance levels. These levels are conservatively set at 1/100th of an exposure that caused no toxicity in laboratory animals.

Conclusions And Recommendations

These studies may be surprising to many and even a bit controversial. However, in the field of nutrition, many commonly held beliefs by the public are not supported by the research literature. 

Organic produce is much more expensive than conventionally grown, often two times as much money. Most buyers of organic foods spend this extra money for one of two reasons:

-They think there are more nutrients in organic foods.

-They believe that organic foods will have a more positive effect on their health than conventionally grown food.

Up to this point, the research indicates that neither are true. If you like to buy organic produce and can easily afford to do so, by all means continue. However, if you are buying organic produce because you think it is more nutritious or will result in improved health, there is very little evidence that this is true.


1) Smith-Spangler C, et al. Are organic foods safer or healthier than conventional alternative? A systematic review. Annals of Internal Medicine 2012; 157:348-66.

2) Dangour AD, et al. Nutrition related health effects of organic foods: A systematic review. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2010; 92:203-10.


No comments: