by Melissa Callari, RD
As a dietitian who has been in practice for more than 17 years, I have always encouraged my patients to consumea whole foods organic diet. When I initially started my practice, “organic” was not a widely recognized way of eating, nor was it widely available. Those roadblocks meant my recommendations were often met with resistance. Though the availability of organic foods has significantly increased, I still find clients questioning the necessity and validity of the concept. After all, we are a value-based society and organic foods generally cost more.
Is it worth it?
Most clients measure the worth of eating organic foods by asking if they are more nutrient dense and if they are safer to eat.
Nutrient density: Many studies have supported the concept that organic foods are indeed more nutrient rich than conventionally grown crops, especially in cancer-fighting antioxidants. A meta-analysis of more than 342 peer-reviewed studies by Baranski, et al, supports this concept, demonstrating 19 to 69 percent higher antioxidant levels in organic crops. It is hypothesized that because these plants are not genetically modified to fight off pests and synthetic pesticides are not used, they develop a higher phytonutrient level as a natural defense mechanism. Similarly when comparing organic dairy products to conventional dairy products, organic ones have been found to have greater amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. These acids have been linked to improved brain health, heart health and reduced inflammation, as well as positive impacts on autoimmune disorders.
Safety: Sometimes value is measured by what you get less of, instead of what you get more of. Organic crops are grown without the use of chemical pesticides and synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. Instead farmers use compost, other organic materials and beneficial insects. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), antibiotics, synthetic hormones, sewage sludge and irradiation are also not allowed when farming organic crops. That makes them safer for human consumption, safer for farmers and food handlers, and safer for the environment. As a dietitian in private practice and the sole dietitian for Full House Organic, the only USDA-certified organic restaurant in New York, I am excited to be a part of the organic movement.
For more information about Full House Organic, visit FullHouseOrganic.com.