Organic vs Commercially Farmed Food

by in Fruits and Veggies, Holistic Nutrition Tips, Kitchen Sink, Whole Foods Diet October 14, 2008

zero.jpgBy Stephen Cox

A while back here in Australia there was a sudden storm of information in the media regarding studies into the differences, if any, between organic food and “regular” commercially farmed food.

At the time I was unaware, but later I was informed by my mother, who is a manager in a major supermarket chain here in Australia, that the release of the research findings and the media interest coincided with the major supermarkets testing consumers response to new organic products in their stores.

The results of the studies showed that there was no additional nutritional value in the more expensive organic produce. However, I have since learned that there are a number of rather underhand tricks so-called scientific studies in this area use to produce the results they want. For starters I would always advise caution regarding accepting the conclusions of any scientific study until you have ascertained some key information for yourself first.

The first question to ask is who paid for the research to be undertaken? Scientific research is big business and costly to undertake. Often the people paying the bills have vested interests and many things are open to manipulation so that desired results can be achieved. Imagine if your boss gave you hundreds of thousands of dollars for a project and you produced the exact opposite results he or she wanted. Chances are you wouldn’t have a job for long much less a successful career.

The second key point when it comes to accepting the findings of research is to ensure you take a close look at exactly what the process the researchers undertook to produce their results was. You will also want to take a look at the actual results pre the drawing of final conclusions by the researchers. I’m amazed at how often researchers make seemingly discontinuous leaps in their conclusions that do not appear to be supported by the results of their own study.

If all that seems a bit like too much effort then let me break down some of the things researchers have done to skew the results of their organic vs. commercially farmed produce studies. A number of years ago there were only a handful of organizations certifying organic producers. If you are going to pay for organic produce you need to ensure it is certified by an organization that requires stringent audits and at least a three year transition period during which only organic farming methods are used. This ensures any lingering residues from past farming practices are no longer present.

In the last couple of years organic certification bodies have sprung up all over the place. Some are little more then websites that require the farmer or company pay a fee before they then send out an organic certification. Such certifications are little more then a bad joke compared to legitimate organic certifiers who require rigorous on site audits and a transition period of three or more years before organic certification is awarded.

The end result is a situation where a large farming corporation or conglomerate of commercial farmers purchases a small test farm from some broke small time farmer. Then they buy a bogus organic certification for the farm, grow produce that by any decent standard isn’t organic and send that produce off to the researchers who are undertaking a study sponsored by that very same corporation. The results of the study are rather unsurprisingly that “organic” produce is no different to regular commercially farmed produce. In reality of course the results are completely bogus.

Other studies have made use of real organic food but transported it thousands of miles to research facilities at which time the quality of the food had degraded sufficiently for it to be declared no different to fresh food of the regular commercially farmed variety. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence could have predicted such an outcome given the facts.

In the second part of this article coming soon we will take a look at what factors actually do play a role in the nutritional and ultimate health value of your fruit, vegetables and animal products. We’ll examine some commercial farming practices and I’ll introduce what I feel is a very important idea – that for us to be healthy the food we eat, be it animal or vegetable, must itself also be healthy.

For more great articles by Stephen Cox you can visit Here are a few of my favorite must reads: “Juice Causes Diabetes”, “Are You Becoming Dumber?”, “How to Overcome Daily Fatigue and Tiredness”.

  1. Thanks Stephen for this fantastic post! Regardless of the research on the nutritional properties of organic vs commercial, organic is always better for our bodies and better for the environment…as well as the health of all the other animals that are forced to live in the messes we create.

  2. Yet another classic example why we should not listen to mainstream media. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Yes! Thank you Stephen!

    As a poor struggling college student, it is relieving to know that even though canned and non-organic food are not as good for the environment, they are at least “good enough” to put into my body on a cheaper budget–not substituting quality for wholesomeness.

    Thanks for posting this Doc!

  4. Hi Dr.

    Saw your badge over at GSTF’s and wanted to stop by and say hello.

    Crikey, what a busy blog – so much going on. Isn’t the Internet a wonderful thing for information?

    Organic produce is becoming more and more the norm in our supermarkets. Lets hope demand doesn’t mean some organic producers start cutting corners to keep up with the demands of profit conscious supermarkets and shoppers alike.

    We get local ‘farmers markets’ which always have a couple of organic produce stalls and very nice the stuff is too.

    We now have a local delivery service that deliver a box once a week for a set fee. You are promised a selection of whatever is in season so it could make you try things you haven’t before? We’re looking forward to trying it when we get a break from making Photo Gifts at our workshops.

    Jonathan (purple13)

  5. Thanks for your comments everyone! We all have the power to vote with our wallets and support the organic farmer’s markets. The more people who do the larger the demand and the more producers there will be. This will result in competition and lower prices.

    If you do buy organic only buy from fully certified organic producers. Often labeling such as “Organic” or “All Natural” is bogus. Look for “Certified Organic” and the certifying body’s logo together with the certification number.

  6. Great article! Good to know 🙂

  7. Here is Guam it’s tougher to get organic products but it can be done. But it’s the variety of locally grown produce I miss the most!

    As for the research – I agree. You have enough money and you can get a study say almost anything you want it to say. People need to keep that in mind and make educated decisions about what they want to put in their bodies!

  8. I agree Dr. Cason. It is not just about the chemicals that we are putting in to our bodies either. The chemicals we use to grow food are polluting our environment.

  9. Excellent article. Everything mentioned in this article is pointedly and critically true. We need to know the source of the research, who paid for the study. Also, we need to know the techniques and processes employed by the researchers to draw their conclusions. It is too easy to manipulate and misrepresent research. We all need to exercise due diligence in this regard.

  10. I highly recommend that you read the book, “Fatal Harvest”

    It documents how powerful the fertilizer industry is and shows how lax the EPA is.

    EPA does not require fertilizer companies to disclose the ‘inert’ ingredients which allows millions of tons of heavy metals into our soils, water and food. EPA states that if we want regulation, the States must create their own rules.

    WA, OR and CA are ok for most fertilizers but the MidWest and East Coast – no regulation that I am aware of. Free for all toxic waste dump on farmer’s fields.

    Why pay for hazardous waste storage when you can sell it as a fertilizer and spread it over farmers land for a profit?

    Think Im kidding?

    Read the book – and visit for information on this.

    In health,
    Dr Ben

  11. @Dr Ben – Not much surprises me these days. The rampant greed that is raping the earth and making millions sick is beyond my comprehension.

    @Brian – Glad you enjoyed it! I get the impression often from many different people that if a “scientific” study says something then it must be so. No questions asked. Too much trust is being placed in such things. Which is why I think we must take responsibility for our own health and wellbeing. Interesting website you got there, by the way.

  12. Yes, research can easily be construed – sometimes on purpose and sometimes not. We find what we want to find.

    A lot of times you can tell if something is really organic or not, but not always.

    Jennifer’s last blog post..It’s Your Choice….

  13. Great info to keep in mind!

    Consumer only can trust what’s written on the lable,
    so it’s a great point you have brought up!

  14. […] enjoy part II in the series of “Organic vs. Commercially Farmed Food” by Stephen […]

  15. Where can I get raw data in the U.S. or Internationally that would have unadulterated numbers.. I just want to run my own stats… I’m also in favor of not polluting anything…


    Numbers Gal’s last blog post..Best Multivitamin 2008

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *