Organic food is safer but not more nutritious

Roxy Simons | Staff Writer

Long before Alicia Silverstone made veganism sexy, organic foods were steadily rising as a popular and healthy trend throughout the United States. After the USDA released national standards for organic foods in 2002, organic products became accessible in 73 percent of conventional American grocery stores. However, despite its popularity, recent studies show no evidence that organic food is any healthier than conventional food.

Some organic products, like milk, are proven to contain more essential and less unnecessary, fatty acids than conventional foods. Overall, however, Stanford researchers concluded that organic foods are not any more nutritious than conventional products.

Despite recent evidence, UNCW English lecturer Michelle Britt is an avid supporter of organic foods. A vegan of almost two years, Britt highly encouraged students to eat organically.

“My eating habits are the biggest impact on my health,” said Britt.

Although organic foods can sometimes be up to 50 percent more expensive than conventional foods, Britt said the extra cost is worth it.

“You can still eat everything you like,” said Britt.

Almost any grocery can be found organically, from meat to produce to potato chips. Britt said she prefers to make organic purchases at Tidal Creek Cooperative Food Market, which specializes in organic foods.

However, while Britt believes in the benefits of organic eating, campus dietician Courtney Simmons disagreed.

“There’s been a bunch of research, but there’s nothing specific to prove that it’s healthier that conventional foods,” said Simmons.

Rather than encouraging the consumption of organic foods, Simmons encourages students to eat more fruits and vegetables, whether conventionally or organically grown.

“Only six percent of UNCW students get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables,” said Simmons.

Simmons discouraged buying organic foods for more nutrients or antioxidants, as conventional foods are just as healthy in this manner. She also said that she hopes students remain wary of labels.

“Some foods, I think, have the organic claim just to have it be more marketable, and I think some people don’t really understand what that means,” said Simmons.

UNCW executive chef Ryan Andress agreed. Andress said he wants students to educate themselves on what the term organic really means. He warned students against false advertising, as the USDA permits companies to claim products as organic if they meet 95 percent of the requirements.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the key difference in organic foods is how they are grown. Organically grown foods use environmentally friendly organic fertilizers and pesticides. Meat deemed organic means the animal was given organic feed and access to the outdoors, but no growth hormones.

“Organic foods are generally fresher and taste better, and I can definitely notice the difference,” said Andress.

He also said that the lack of pesticides and processing is a definite plus.

Although according to scientific evidence, organic foods do not contain any additional vitamins or nutrients, some students find the lack of chemicals essential to a healthy diet.

UNCW sophomore Sterling Dallas said she thinks eating organically is important, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables.

“Our bodies aren’t made to have these chemicals,” said Dallas. “It’s just better to stay away from them.”


Any nutritionist will tell you eating organically is a personal decision. While some may say the additives organic foods lack are a health benefit, others say it’s just a safety precaution. And for some, it’s a matter of taste. 
“I think if someone wants to eat organically, that’s their choice,” said Simmons.