Over the past 25 years the demand for organic food has increased rapidly in developed countries such as Europe, Asia and North America (Willer & Lernoud, 2016). However, whether organic food can truly benefit human health remains questionable. Organic food is food produced under the standard of organic farming that involves strictly controlled usage of pesticides, fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics and growth hormones. The term was firstly invented in the 1940’s to deliver the concept of “the farm as organism”, describing a holistic, ecologically friendly method of farming as an alternative to chemical farming, which relies on artificial fertilizers (Scofield, 1986). Many recent systematic review studies and meta-analyses have identified differences in the nutritional composition between organic and conventional food. This included the higher composition of antioxidant and omega-3 fatty acids and lower cadmium and pesticide levels (Barański et al., 2014). Results from smaller human cohort studies have also revealed a positive correlation between organic food consumption and reduced risk of several diseases including pre-eclampsia, hypospadias and obesity (Barański, Rempelos, Iversen, & Leifert, 2017). However, despite the promising results from these studies, there is a major lack of data based on long-term studies that focus on chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Also, there is a lack of data based on controlled human dietary studies that comparie organic and conventional diet. This video educates the general public on the concept of organic food, presents recent evidence that showcase the benefits of organic food and discusses the limitations of studies. Overall, although the benefit of organic food for human health is supported by some evidence, much research is still required to determine if the impact is significant.

This video was made by Demystifying Medicine students: Angela Gupta, Kate Kim, Ingrid Kao and Kaaran Gupta

Copyright McMaster University 2018

Barański, M., Rempelos, L., Iversen, P., & Leifert, C. (2017). Effects of organic food
consumption on human health; the jury is still out!. Food & Nutrition Research, 61(1),
1287333. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/16546628.2017.1287333

Crinnion, W. (2018). Organic Foods Contain Higher Levels of Certain Nutrients, Lower Levels
of Pesticides, and May Provide Health Benefits for the Consumer. Alternative Medicine
Review, 15(1).

Danish, E. P. A. (1999). Report to the Bichel Committee-Organic Scenarios for Denmark, report
from the Interdisciplinary Group of the Bichel Committee. Danish Environmental
Protection Agency, Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Copenhagen. Online at http://www. mst. dk/udgiv/publications/2001/87-7944-622-1/html.

Forman, J., & Silverstein, J. (2012). Organic foods: health and environmental advantages and
disadvantages. Pediatrics, 130(5), e1406-e1415.

Humphreys, A. (2012). Canada’s organic food certification system ‘little more than an
extortion racket,’ report says. National Post. Online at
http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadas-organic-food-certification-system-little-mo
re-than-an-extortion-racket-report-says

Lockie, S., Lyons, K., Lawrence, G., & Grice, J. (2004). Choosing organics: a path analysis of
factors underlying the selection of organic food among Australian consumers. Appetite, 43(2), 135-146.

Leave a Reply

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