Friday, July 31, 2009
Organic food: Is it worth the money?
Invariably right next to the shelf filled with normal looking potatoes or onions are their neat and well packaged organic counterparts. Both the conventional and organic varieties are sold under the same supermarket brand name, so there is not much to chose between the brand as such (hey, its only vegetables after all!). But the prices tell a different story, the well packaged organic cousin is at least a £1 or more expensive. You wonder whether the price is worth it, but the thought of the pesticide scarred poorer cousin being somehow less nutritious wins the argument (at times) and you snap up the expensive organic variety and head towards the checkout.
Well if nutrition is the key decision factor for shelling out extra bucks for the organic variety then its perhaps time to think again. A recent study commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) reveals that "there are no important differences in the nutrition content, or any additional health benefits, of organic food when compared with conventionally produced food". Ouch! Among others, researchers reviewed papers published on this topic over the last 50 years before arriving at this conclusion.
As of now it appears that the global appetite for organically produced food is rising and in the U.K, the market for organic food is currently estimated to be worth £2bn. The question is whether the findings of this study and possibly others along similar lines will dent the market for organic foods in the years to come.
Proponents for organic food cite many other factors, including taste, sustainable farming, benefit to the environment etc as reasons to switch to organic food. Needless to say, in the years ahead it would be these factors and not nutrition which shapes public opinion about organic food.
On a different note, a good re-read of this blog post makes me feel like I am doing a reading comprehension/critical reasoning passage in the middle of a really long exam. The only aspect missing is a daft question on the lines of - What is the tone of the passage? or What does the passage suggest about the author's attitude towards Organic food? :-)