EAT ORGANIC AND LIVE LONGER

SCIENCE BEGINS TO CATCH UP WITH WHAT HAS BEEN COMMON SENSE TO THE REST OF US ALL ALONG

By Paul Anthony Taylor

Chairman, National Health Federation

A major $25 million study, funded by the European Union, recently concluded that organic food is more nutritious than ordinary produce and that it may help to lengthen people’s lives.

Whilst these findings will obviously not come as a surprise to most readers of Health Freedom News, the vast majority of whom will long have been aware of the benefits of naturally produced, pesticide-free food, they are certainly big news in the United Kingdom (UK), where the Food Standards Agency, the British Government’s food regulator, has traditionally been openly skeptical of organic food. So much so, in fact, that the Agency’s official position is still that there is no evidence that organic food is any better than food produced with pesticides.

Nevertheless, on the day that news of the study broke, The Times newspaper, in the UK, confidently predicted that it will end years of debate and that it is likely to overturn official British government advice that eating organic food is merely a lifestyle choice.

Whilst only time will tell whether or not The Times proves to be correct, it has to be said that the design of the study, and its results, are most impressive.

To carry out their evaluation, the researchers grew fruit and vegetables and reared cattle on adjacent organic and non-organic sites across Europe , including a 725-acre farm attached to Newcastle University, in the North East of England.

Their findings showed that up to 40% more antioxidants could be found in organic fruit and vegetables than in produce grown using pesticides. Organic produce was also shown to have higher levels of key minerals such as iron and zinc. Even more impressively, levels of antioxidants in milk from organic cattle were between 50% and 80% higher than in regular milk.

Mounting Evidence

This latest study follows hot on the heels of several other studies published this year, each of which also found strong evidence in support of the health benefits of organic food.

Researchers from the University of California at Davis , for example, carried out a study comparing organic and non-organic kiwi fruits grown next to each other on a farm in Marysville , California and found that the organically-grown kiwi fruit had 17 percent more polyphenols – antioxidants that reduce the body’s production of free radicals – and 14 percent more Vitamin C. In addition, the organic kiwi fruit also had higher concentrations of minerals such as potassium and calcium.

In another study, carried out over a period of ten years at the University of California , researchers found that organic tomatoes on average contain almost double the level of two important flavonoids, quercetin and kaempferol, compared to conventionally-grown tomatoes. This was potentially a very important finding, as higher levels of flavonoids have been linked with reduced rates of some types of cancer and dementia.

Can Organic Agriculture Feed The World?

Of course, the proponents of industrial, chemical-intensive agriculture regularly pour scorn on findings such as these, arguing that organic agriculture can’t feed the World because its yields are too low. But is there any truth to this claim, and is the pro-organic movement deluding itself regarding the viability of a synthetic-fertilizer and pesticide-free planet? Based upon recent evidence, it would seem not.

Researchers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor , for example, have found that organic agriculture can provide yields roughly comparable to conventional agriculture in developed countries and up to three times higher than conventional farming in developing countries.

In coming to this conclusion, the researchers analyzed published studies on yields from organic farming and examined 293 different examples. Their estimates indicate that organic methods could produce enough food on a global per-capita basis to sustain the current human population, and potentially an even larger population, without increasing the agricultural land base.

Vested Interests Opposed To Organic Agriculture

Dr. Ivette Perfecto, a professor at Michigan University’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, and one of the Michigan study’s principal investigators, has been very outspoken regarding the vested interests in favor of a chemical-intensive approach to farming, describing the idea that people would go hungry if farming went organic as “ridiculous.”

“Corporate interest in agriculture and the way agriculture research has been conducted in land grant institutions, with a lot of influence by the chemical companies and pesticide companies as well as fertilizer companies, all have been playing an important role in convincing the public that you need to have these inputs to produce food,” she explained in a recent statement.

In fact, of course, the problem goes even deeper than this as, in many cases, the manufacturers of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers are the very same pharmaceutical and chemical companies that want to ban therapeutically-effective dietary supplements, medicate us with toxic, patented chemical-drug medicines, and force genetically-modified foods – laden with artificial additives – onto our dinner plates.

As such, it can be seen that the vested interests opposing organic agriculture are effectively part of the same hydra-headed pharmaceutical and chemical cartel that, supported by its political stakeholders, sees optimum health, achieved by natural means, as being bad for business.

Plain Common Sense

Meanwhile, the popularity of organic food continues to grow and organic agriculture is now practiced commercially in 120 countries, representing a total of 31 million hectares and a market of US$40 billion in 2006.

Clearly, therefore, and just as with dietary supplements, people are increasingly voting with their wallets and making up their own minds as to what is good for them and their families. And, given that the quality of the health advice offered by most governments and politicians is so deplorably poor these days, who can blame them?

After all, it doesn’t take an Einstein to work out that naturally-produced food, containing higher levels of beneficial nutrients, is going to be better for our health than intensively-produced food containing dangerous chemical contaminants and genetically-modified ingredients.

Once upon a time, that would have been seen as plain common sense.

Hopefully, therefore, one day soon, our governments and politicians might be brave enough to admit publicly what the rest of us have known all along