Comparing organic food safety to conventional foods



What are the facts with respect to organic food safety? This article looks at one aspect of organic food safety by means of comparison of the level of pesticide residues present on conventional foods vs organic foods.

When surveyed, shoppers buying organic food stated a preference for 'fewer chemicals in food', and more than half said 'organic food is better for me/my family'. Many also said organic food is 'better for the environment'. Are these perceptions correct?

Testing and sampling of foods in the U.S., the U.K., and Europe has resulted in some interesting statistics. The incidence of pesticide residues found in organic foods tested by the Pesticide Data Program (PDP) in the U.S. is significantly less than in samples of conventional foods.

Conventional fruits are more than 3x more likely to contain residues than organic fruit samples and conventional vegetables are more than 6x times more likely to have one or more detectable residues.

Conventional food samples also tended to contain multiple residues, more frequently. BIG POINT: Imported foods consistently contain more residues than domestic samples (so buy local, etc.)

In British testing, conventional foods were more than 7x more likely to contain detectable residues than organic foods.

One of the scarier conclusions from research is that the impact is much greater on children. Kids, especially infants, consume more food per kilogram of bodyweight than grownups; and they typically have a much less varied diet. As a consequence, exposure to a pesticide from a given food is greater per kilogram of infant/child bodyweight.

Even worse, exposure to some pesticides during infancy, even at very low levels, can lead to serious life-long consequences if the pesticides disrupt key developmental processes.

The foods that tested at the highest level of pesticide residue (even after washing) include apples, peaches, celery, peppers, spinach, lettuce, grapes, potatoes and strawberries. What to do? Buy local, buy natural, support your local farmer!

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