Doctor's Note

This is the second of a five-part video series on organic versus conventional foods. What about the relative nutrient content? See my last: Are Organic Foods More Nutritious?

Here’s what to look forward to next:

For more on the infectious disease implications of organic vs. conventional, see Superbugs in Conventional vs. Organic Chicken. Organic produce may be safer too. See: Norovirus Food Poisoning from Pesticides. Organic eggs may also have lower Salmonella risk, which is an egg-borne epidemic every year in the U.S. See my video Who Says Eggs Aren’t Healthy or Safe?

More on Parkinson’s and pesticides in Preventing Parkinson’s Disease With Diet.

Those surprised by the California data might have missed my video California Children Are Contaminated.

If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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  • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

    I will not wait for the studies, I choose organic whenever I have the opportunity

    • Veganrunner

      I am with you doc. Who wants all those chemicals polluting our planet?

      • Joe Caner

        Monsanto, Bayer, Dow AgroSciences, Syngenta, DuPont, BASF to name a few.

      • Stephen Lucker Kelly

        Try to say synthetic chemicals. as in man made, everything has chemicals in so it makes you look ignorant.

        • Veganrunner

          Oh really? Nice post.

        • Thea

          Stephen Lucker Kelly: I knew exactly what Veganrunner meant. I imagine everyone did.

          I recommend you take a look at the rules for posting on this site:
          http://nutritionfacts.org/faq
          scroll to the section: “What are the rules for posting comments on this site?” The first sentence is particularly relevant for you: “The intention of the comment section … is
          to allow all members to share their stories, questions, and feedback
          with others in a welcoming, engaging, and respectful environment.” Also check out the second paragraph.

          • Stephen Lucker Kelly

            Thea, I know what he meant, I meant in general conversations with people, especially on a science based website it’s better to be clear about something than not, as I read a lot of science pages and often enough if someone says chemicals instead of synthetic chemicals, they assume they are part of the bandwagon fallacy and don’t actually realise that chemicals are all over the place and people are made of chemicals. Synthetic chemicals are man made and have a negative affect due to not breaking down well in the environment. But at the same time if I collect a lot of organic chemicals to use as pesticides which isn’t naturally in high doses this also has a negative affect because it has been concentrated.

            So simple being organic isn’t enough. It takes people who care to do what is right and make good farming methods which keep food healthy and safe to consume. There needs to be a food safety and environmental standard association that registers farms, not just simple an organic certification, this does mean less dodgy man made stuff but it doesn’t instantly equal safe, as we all know nature just killed a lot of people in Nepal. Sadly.

            I haven’t broken any rules, and I suggest you read them yourself. Honest isn’t against the rules, although some people might not deal with the truth very well. I was just making a friendly suggestion so people take him more seriously on other websites.

          • DanielFaster

            In a chemistry book sure, but in general parlance ‘chemicals’ means man-made. Put away your CRC and look in Webster’s. That’s the same logic they used to morph genetically engineered into gmo to make it seem like naturally bred plants, as commonly occuring natural chemicals, are just like gmo’s, or synthetic chemicals.

          • Stephen Lucker Kelly

            Chemicals means chemicals. Obviously people miss use words in slang and I get that people usually mean man made synthetic chemicals when they say this. I do. My point is that those a bit arrogant or more science minded think that people who use the word chemicals so liberally don’t usually have any understanding of chemistry and don’t take them seriously because no one with any understanding of chemistry knows that everything is made of chemicals. But I get it people are not pc, but I would prefer that people get listened to who understand the dangers of man made chemicals and want change. This isn’t me being pedantic or a prick. I generally want people to listen more.

            GMOs are in no way natural. They could only exist with human intervention and would not happen naturally in the wild. Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t understand genetics.

          • Veganrunner

            Stephen you need to chill. I understand chemistry and have had my share of chemistry classes. But I would bet you have not or you would not have commented about my use of the word and so rudely. Obviously you are new to this sight. Sit back, relax and learn a little.

          • Stephen Lucker Kelly

            Not new at all, been watching these videos for 5 years. I wasn’t rude just honest. If you find honest rude, not sure how you tell people that there is a dead animal on their table. I mean how do you do that. It’s not a dead animal it’s some kind of morphed meat that is unhealthy, I don’t know maybe I just like to be straight forward sometimes over vague.

            I wasn’t being rude I was being helpful, if you found it rude… well I guess we have a different perspective on what is polite. Sometimes there is no way to be tactful with out the point just being missed all together.

            Hindsight is nice and being vague is fine, but if you want to be taken seriously it’s better to be precise.

          • I’d have to say your own connotation to the word “chemicals” is strictly that—your own. You are arguing your own semantics against traditional, social-norm semantics. I understand where you are coming from, but you have the intellect not to assume, or critique someone as being ignorant for using the general term understood by almost all as a reference of “chemicals” induced by man. Your connotation of chemical, is like mine of compound. I view chemical compounds and being more natural, but that doesn’t mean other people have the same connotation of the word.

          • DanielFaster

            When I use a word it means exactly what I want it to mean . . . and what everyone else understands it to mean:
            chemical [kem-i-kuhl]
            noun 1. a substance produced by or used in a chemical process. Dictionary.com

  • Joe Caner

    Vegetables good. Organic vegetables better!

  • thurstonn

    Fact #1: Organic farming still allows the use of pesticides, but a smaller subset of mostly natural and some synthetic ones.
    Fact #2: These studies only tested for specific synthetic pesticides, which to my knowledge are only used in conventional farming.

    So these studies showed that conventional produce has a higher concentration of the pesticides that are only allowed in conventional farming? Umm… duh? If they did a study testing only for the most commonly used pesticides used in organic farming the results would probably be very interesting.

    In any case, someone should do a study looking at ALL the pesticides on produce and see how they compare. Perhaps organic will be lower? Perhaps not. I don’t know. I’m actually not against organic at all, and I actually like to buy pesticide-free produce from my local farmers market because I trust them to embody the spirit of organic farming instead of the letter of the law, which allows virtually limitless spraying of approved organic pesticides.

    • b00mer

      Interesting about the methodology! Did you look at the papers yourself or is this in the video? Sorry but I can’t watch the vid right now so I’ve just read the transcript at this point.

      I agree about preferring local/organic-ish to legally labelled organic. At the grocery store I’ll get organic if the price is decent, if not I don’t worry about it. Our co-op has local stuff in the summer but boy is it pricey. Farmer markets are limited and fleeting where I live. If I’m ever pregnant someday I would make an effort increase my organic consumption if only based on faith/precautionary principle. But for the time being I know I would have to buy a lot less variety and quantity if I only purchased organic.

    • baggman744

      Organic does NOT allow for “synthetic” pesticides, but there are plenty of natural pesticides and fungicides. Organic farmers can be just as commercialized, and plenty of mega multinationals are farming organic it. Does that mean organic is safer? I don’t think know.

      “The sad truth is, factory farming is factory farming, whether its organic or conventional. Many large organic farms use pesticides liberally. They’re organic by certification, but you’d never know it if you saw their farming practices. As Michael Pollan, best-selling book author and organic supporter, said in an interview with Organic Gardening, “They’re organic by the letter, not organic in spirit… if most organic consumers went to those places, they would feel they were getting ripped off.”

      (source for above) http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi/httpblogsscientificamericancomscience-sushi20110718mythbusting-101-organic-farming-conventional-agriculture/

      • Stewart

        Baggman, I think you make an outstanding point. I’ll even repeat you, “factory farming is factory farming.” I will even assert that some, mostly smaller, conventional farmers who are conscientious will sometimes do a better job of environmental protection and produce safer produce than some of the organic factory farms you mention. An integrated pest management system using predator and parasitic beneficial insects while reducing but not eliminating toxic substances can still have very beneficial results. I used to know an old very conventional, and very careful entomologist who would use DDT in a heartbeat for spot applications but loudly denounce crop dusting because of the destruction of beneficial insects.
        Remember the organic pesticide, nicotine sulfate can kill you in a matter of minutes. DDT takes a lot more and a lot longer.

        So I am with you. This is not quite black and white but,,,, still organic is likely more nutritious and safer.

        • baggman744

          Well said, and I agree, organic when possible.

          Its a start:

          http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/29/business/usda-to-start-program-to-support-local-and-organic-farming.html?_r=0

          Also worth a read: Has ‘Organic’ Been Oversized?

          http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/business/organic-food-purists-worry-about-big-companies-influence.html

          “Food bearing the ‘USDA Organic’ seal no longer needs to be natural food…” Read why Eden Farms, one of my favorite organic foods, does not carry the USDA organic label:

          http://www.edenfoods.com/articles/view.php?articles_id=78

          Maybe the old cliche is true, “ignorance is bliss…”

          • Thea

            baggman744: That article from Eden is very sobering.

            I liked Eden before, but I like them even better after reading that. Thanks for the link(s).

          • baggman744

            Eden is good stuff, but expensive. Sometimes up to 100% more than conventional. That’s the challenge, and will be for some time: make healthier food safer, accessible, and affordable.

          • Thea

            re: expensive
            Yes! I have noticed that even factoring in a reduction with what seems like a good coupon, Eden canned beans can end up costing more than another “organic” brand at full price. There is definitely a trade-off. I have been buying Eden beans anyway for a couple of reasons, but the cost is definitely an issue. I often wonder how much that cost difference is justified.

          • baggman744

            Good point. Many foods have much lower yields, and are more expensive to produce organically. Beans? Don’t know. Like all things economic, its probably several factors, as in, cost premiums are shared amongst all products. A can of conventional beans maybe 90 cents; organic, $2 dollars. Worth the expense? Sure. But if you like blueberries, conventional frozen maybe $2 to $4 dollars a pound, organic $6 to $8. Math is math. If everything organic so much more expensive, then for far too many, it’s just too cost prohibitive.

  • DE Lacey

    While Dr. Greger has been equivocal on GMOs in general, organic is the only way to assure non GMO food in the corporate owned USA. Here in France, and in 64 countries worldwide, GMOs are labeled. BTW, I reckon Dr. Greger does NOT eat GMOs at home.

    • Joe Caner

      I assume he does not knowingly eat GMOs, but without changes to USA’s labeling laws. How is anyone in the US suppose to know what they are getting. Of course, that is the point. Agrochemical companies have used their influence to promote the notion of “substantial equivalence” to argue that GMOs need not be labeled, and have fought tooth and nail in intellectual property courts that their products are novel, non-obvious and useful to secure patent protection.

    • We could certainly learn from the European Union on the banning of persistent organic pollutants and labeling of food. At this point a reasonable approach is to eat organic and avoid GMO foods as much as possible. There is alot to be said for the precautionary principle as Dr. Greger mentioned. There are proven alternatives to raising foods without persistent organic pollutants and use of GMO’s foods. Fortunately we get the opportunity to vote with our purchases and eating habits. For further information see video… http://nutritionfacts.org/video/california-children-are-contaminated/.

      • Kris Fowler

        Hi Dr. Forrester… GMOs have been in the food supply for over 30 years… are you aware of any evidence that they are harmful?… i can’t think of another potentially beneficial product that would require more than 30 years of safety before being universally accepted

        • Thea

          Kris: I have seen the argument you are making before. It has never made sense to me. I am curious if you are making only a partial argument for brevity’s sake or if it is the entire argument?

          Here’s what I mean: For the last 30 years we have seen increases in all sorts of health problems. How do you know none of those problems are related to consumption of GMO foods? Or consumption of GMO foods combined with other conditions (say more pesticides on GMO foods)? Just because something has been in the food supply for a long time does not make it a safe or healthy substance to consume. After all, people have been eating processed meats for decades. That doesn’t make processed foods safe (in fact, we know the opposite is true). It just means people have been eating processed foods for a long time.

          For me, the question is: Are you aware of any good long term research that attempts to tease out the relationship between long term human GMO consumption and health outcomes one way or the other? In other words, the fact of people eating the food is not enough. The food has to also be rigorously evaluated for your argument to be meaningful. Are you aware of such studies and just left them out to be brief?

          To answer your question: I’m aware of plenty of anecdotes against GMOs. Between that and just plain common sense, I am comfortable saying that we have plenty of good reason to apply the cautionary principle to the subject of eating GMOs until we get some good scientific evidence one way or the other. It is the responsibility of proponents to prove the safety of the artificially genetically modified food. Not the other way around.

          To twist your statement a bit: I can’t think of another potentially more disastrous product that would be allowed to be sold commercially without better (and more holistic/environmental) studies.

          • Kris Fowler

            Hi Thea and thank you for your response.

            While i
            appreciate the point you are making I find it somewhat strange that
            while we are having this discussion on a website that attributes
            significant blame for the “increases in all sorts of health problems”
            over the last 30 years to the standard american diet, you insinuate that
            it might be something else. I don’t have the data, but I think you
            and I would both be surprised if whole food vegans, GMO or not, were
            included in the group with increasing health problems

            As
            for testing, while I’m not sure what you mean by “more holistic” testing
            I think there has been for than you are aware of. This is from the
            American Association for the Advancement of Science:

            “The
            EU, for example, has invested more than 300 million euros in research
            on the biosafety of GMOs. Its recent report states: ‘The main conclusion
            to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects,
            covering a period of more than 25 years of research and involving more
            than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in
            particular GMOs, are not per se more risky that e.g. conventional plant
            breeding technologies’ ”
            (http://www.aaas.org/sites/default/files/AAAS_GM_statement.pdf)

            As well, while the science of GMO food is relatively recent, we have been selectively altering genes for thousands of years, in order to get from wild cabbage to broccoli, for example. Is it the method of gene alteration you oppose, then, and if so why?

            Thanks for your time

            Kris

          • Thea

            Kris: And I thank you for your response. I appreciate your approach/open tone.

            re: “I find it somewhat strange … blame … you insinuate that it might be something else.”
            Goodness, I’m not at all trying to say that all or even a large percentage of the increased health problems can be laid at the door of GMO. I’m just saying that GMOs could be responsible for or contributing to some of them. For example, it’s my understanding that there is a rash of/increase in general food allergies and sensitivities. Perhaps some of that could be related to GMOs. I don’t know. And I don’t think anyone knows one way or the other. But it is extremely plausible given the types of changes that a GMO food involves. And while I agree that the SAD diet is largely to blame for much of the issues we have seen over the last decades, eating GMOs are part of the SAD diet…

            re: “I’m not sure what you mean by “more holistic””
            That’s fair. What I mean is testing the food as it is really eaten. I’ve heard that a great deal of GMO testing is done without real conditions. For example, testing the food itself, but not how it is really grown in commercial practice. Ie: testing without the pesticide. If the purpose of a GMO food is to allow greater application of Roundup, then testing the food grown in a lab without the Roundup doest not tell us what we need to know – how the GMO food affects human health when combined with the large roundup dose.

            I mean more than just that though. I’m talking about synergy effects. People don’t just eat a single food. People eat a range of foods. We know that there can be interactions between foods that exacerbate problems. (For example, see Dr. Greger’s recent video about how eating meat with white rice can make the effects of the meat even worse. White rice by itself may not be a problem. But eating white rice with meat…) The GMO foods need to be tested/understood in the context of how people actually eat them. I could see how a modified protein in a plant may be fine by itself, but when combined with another plant or meat that is maybe often used with that GMO plant, then maybe we have a problem. I don’t know. Maybe not. But given that we are talking about something so basic to life as *food*, it needs to be tested.

            re: “… more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research and involving more than 500 independent research groups…”
            The devil is in the details. It’s my understanding (which could be wrong!) that those studies do not usually involve human studies. And especially not long term human studies. In other words, 25 years of research does not necessarily mean a study that lasts 25 years. It could just mean 25 studies that each took a year. Or whatever. You get my point hopefully. When it came to figuring out the problems with smoking, we had to do long term human studies. There was nothing else that could tell us whether or not smoking was harmful to humans.

            re: ” Is it the method of gene alteration you oppose…?” Sort of. But I don’t think it is the right question. What we are doing in the lab with the GMOs is beyond what can be done in nature. That change from wild cabbage to broccoli may have been controlled or accelerated by humans, but it is still something that could very well have happened through evolution. With GMO’s, they are throwing in genes from other species, sometimes even non-plant species (put fish DNA in plant X…) and seeing what sticks. We are changing the chemistry of the plants in fundamental ways that would never occur naturally. And these changes are not about making the plant more palatable, but about say making the plant produce poisons or more poisons. The point of the objection is not that a “gene” was involved. But that the effect of the new chemistry of the plant on human, animal and planetary health after the artificial gene changes take place is not understood. It’s not a fear of genes or artificial genes that I have. It is a fear of changing the proteins and carbs and other pieces of the plant in a way that our bodies may not be able to process in a healthy way.

            Sorry the post is so long. I have a very hard time articulating my thoughts on this subject. If you stopped reading long before this, I would certainly understand. ;-)

          • Kris Fowler

            Hi Thea, and thanks again for the time you took to respond. It sounds to me like we are coming from different sides on this argument and we could go on and on. In general, i just think you are underestimating the amount of regulation that is already in place. Especially when you say “they are throwing genes from other species….. and seeing what sticks”. If it doesn’t “stick” then it won’t be approved. Adverse unintended consequences are noted and the GE process in question is not commercialized.

            This is a quote from a book a book called Tomorrow’s Table, that kind of simplifies the argument, for me anyway: “Unlike flouirde or some types of synthetic or organic pesticides such as rotenone, which are unquestioningly lethal to animals at high concentrations, GE traits are composed of the same chemical building blocks (DNA and proteins) that we eat every day…. in other words the fluoridated toothpaste on your toothbrush or the soft drinks in your refrigerator likely present greater risks to your health than the GE papaya you had for breakfast” (p87). Maybe you don’t consume flouirde or soft drinks, but you get the point. Millions do consume them without concern. (As pertains to our discussion here, I recommend chapter 7 of that book, if you happen to come across it)

            You can argue that every food contains some sort of risk, I just happen to think there is a greater chance of me choking on an organic apple than being harmed by eating a GE potato.

            Thanks again for the discussion

            Kris

      • Mike

        I was just going to ask if European organic meats were safer. Suffering with IBS and starch / fibre are giving me extreme bloating. To get relief I’m looking for a temporary protein source whilst I’m unable to eat legumes… but scared of even organic chicken.

        • Thea

          Mike: I think the following article on how much protein humans need and how much we can get from the food we eat would be really helpful for you. The bottom line is that you don’t need the meat to get enough protein just because you are having trouble with beans. You *will* need to get enough calories, however, and getting enough calories from whole foods can be harder if you are not eating starchy foods. But I’m thinking that you still have choices other than resorting to eating animals if you want other options.
          http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein.html
          .
          I know you addressed your question to Dr. Forrester. I hope you will also get an answer from him. I just thought that you would appreciate the above article either way. Best of luck on your condition. It sounds no fun.

          • Mike

            Thanks Thea. I am aware of this thread, that protein is found in all plant foods in varying amounts and one can meet their needs. However I feel in the evening I do need more protein, something to digest slowly to stop me eating late at night, as I am suffering with severe bloating and distension due to what I think is either ‘SIBO’ and/or H pylori / Candida something along these lines. I had anti biotics and since then I think my gut has never recovered. Mix that in with a bit of a binge eating problem and…I destroyed my gut.

            If you research SIBO you will find most commonly promoted are low carb / fibre diets. It’s true that fibre and starch are the most difficult foods to digest when one has SIBO, but I refuse to eat meat at the moment, and have found some foods I can eat that are 100% vegan, it’s just so limited. The NHS doesn’t recognize the condition and are being very slow to help me. I’ve been suffering for 4-5 years with chronic constipation / related sleep deprivation.

            I am just bout to start introducing pulses in small amounts but last time I tried it really didn’t work. I think I need to be more patient. But just for a few weeks I considered organic meats just to build up my body, it feels like the burden of all the starch and fibre is too much for me and it keeps me awake at night (fermenting). There is lots of convincing evidence that it is the resistant starches fermenting that over feeds methane producing Archea (Not bacteria?, but another subset of microbe I believe) who take over when anti biotics kill off gut flora.

            http://www.siboinfo.com/

          • Thea

            When food itself is such a problem, l can just imagine how very hard life would be. I hope you are able to find a solution that makes you feel better.

  • Tanya

    How much of the pesticide residue can you wash off?

    • b00mer

      Looks like that might be covered in the next video?

      From the Doctor’s Note above:

      “Here’s what to look forward to next:

      How to Make Your Own Fruit and Vegetable Wash
      Are Organic Foods Healthier?
      Are the Benefits of Organic Food Underrated or Overrated?”

    • Joe Caner

      Dr. Greger produced a video on the subject call Can Pesticides Be Rinsed Off?
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/can-pesticides-be-rinsed-off/

  • Jocelyn

    Nothing was said here about “safe” levels of pesticide absorption. I think it’s a salient point. Obviously, in a perfect world, there would be no pesticides or chemicals anywhere, but in the world I live in there are. Some of them I worry about, some not so much, even though I never buy household chemicals. The stuff on my food? Well, here’s where it gets political. Does this study mean that only the people who can afford organic get to be healthy? The implication, correct me if I’m wrong, is that if you aren’t middle class and educated about food, then you are at risk of getting some horrible cancer.

  • bobday

    the studies he cited did not appear to differentiate vegetarians, vegans, meat eaters, so my assumption would be a sizable proportion of meat and dairy consumed in the study which would indicate higher differences than in a totally vegan population since animals concentrate toxins.

    plus of course, there will be a whole new level of research beyond organic where it is not just the absence of pesticides, but the presence of the full complement of soil microbes providing complete nutrition to the plant through the soil food web naturally. Organic standards need revisiting and there is another whole level of health beyond just eliminating pesticides, herbicides, etc

  • Julot Julott

    In these studies it seems they didnt look for organic pesticides in the blood and urine, some of them are more toxic than synthetic ones, most organic products have these “organic pesticides”~
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vja9KauBb3I
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ggEe4OwSMc

  • Stephen Lucker Kelly

    I heard that organic pesticides are less regulated and can cause risks. As a lot of poison in nature would be classed as organic. So how do we know that Organic pesticides are not dangerous?

    • Thea

      Stephen Lucker Kelly: re: “So how do we know that Organic pesticides are not dangerous?” It’s my understanding that some organic pesticides *are* dangerous. I still choose organic in general, because we know that in general/overall organic is less dangerous than conventional. I don’t know which specific practices. Just in general, it appears organic is more likely to be a safer choice. To somewhat support what I am saying, here is a quote from one of Dr. Greger’s blog posts some time ago:

      “A new study calculated that if half the U.S. population ate just one more serving of conventional fruits and vegetables, 20,000 cases of cancer could be prevented. At the same time the added pesticide consumption could cause up to 10 extra cancer cases. So by eating conventional produce we may get a tiny bump in cancer risk, but that’s more than compensated by the dramatic drop in risk that accompanies whole food plant consumption. Even if all we had to eat was the most contaminated produce the benefits would far outweigh any risks.”
      from: http://nutritionfacts.org/2013/06/25/apple-peels-turn-on-anticancer-genes/

      Dr. Greger’s point is to put the issue into perspective and to hope that people will not inflate the dangers of eating conventional crops. But the quote also acknowledges that there is some added danger of overall eating of conventional crops even without knowing which specific practices in organic are safe or not. And that quote above is just about one serving of fruits or veggies.

      If you add in the additional consideration of harm to the planet and harm to farm workers, that puts me firmly in the court of eating organic when I can, even knowing that sometimes an organic food may not be any better than it’s conventional counter part.

      Just some thoughts for you.

      • Stephen Lucker Kelly

        I agree it would seem that organic is the safer option. My point is that if Organic pesticides cause as many problems when sprayed on crops as non-organic, then maybe it isn’t as helpful as we assumed, as there isn’t much data on organic pesticides then we don’t really know. However a lot of organic farmers on the small scale don’t actually use pesticides they use copper sprays in some cases and keep an eye on things if anything seems to get out of control they handle it. But that is when they’re a small farmer with time to keep on top of everything not a corporate organic who just switch out the synthetic chemicals they spray for organic ones and then it’s business as usually. It really depends on who you buy from so that is why it’s so important to know what the farmers do.

  • Gary

    Where I live, in one of the most unhealthy states in the US I have little choice but to buy conventional produce, except for carrots, broc and one time a bag of potatoes.
    I’m concerned about potatoes the most since I eat a lot of them. From what I read they’re sprayed with herbicides, pesticides and fungicides and it can’t be washed off..Grrr
    And plenty of beans. I wonder how clean they are?

    I wonder what produce the kids ate? The dirty apples, strawberries, grapes and celery etc, or the cleaner pineapple, cantaloupe, kiwi, grapefruit and cabbage?

    And can we ask for a pesticide test at our next Dr visit and blood work test to see how contaminated our diet really is?

    • baggman744

      Sur you can ask for a pesticide test, good luck getting insurance to pay for it…

    • Joe Caner

      Which is the unhealthiest state in the union anyways?
      Mississippi has the highest rates obesity and Alabama the highest rate of type 2 diabetes, but both states have at least one Whole Foods Market.
      I guess I am just spoiled living in California where the produce is excellent.The Environmental Working Group tests conventionally grown produce for chemical contaminants and publishes the Clean 15:
      http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/clean_fifteen_list.php

      And the Dirty Dozen:
      http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php

      But from your posting it would seem as if you are already familiar with their work.
      If you eat lots and lots of beans, have you considered purchase dried organic beans in bulk from an internet dealer?

      • Gary

        Hi Joe, I’ve lived on a mountain in West Virginia for the past 10 yrs. It’s a 25 mile round trip to the nearest Walmart. If they don’t have what I want then I go without..lol I believe WV is a leader in obesity, diabetes, smoking and coal lung related diseases, the least education, the poorest diet and exercise, and the highest unemployment.

        But I didn’t move here for all that…lol I was interested in the less crowds, crime, low property cost and very low property taxes (paid $190 last yr) cleaner air from hardly any traffic jams, or industrial air pollution.

        I came from the Houston area where the air was choked with smog from a few million cars, and about 60 chemical plants and oil refineries.
        They have a very high new bridge going over Baytown that is at the perfect level to suck in all the fumes from the smoke stacks of the 60 plants below. Every time I go visit I feel like I should have brought my gasmask because before I get to LaPorte my eyes are burning and my throat is raw…just like old times there….lol
        So I make due here in sleepy WV and shock the locals with my very strange diet and exercise.

        • Dommy

          Hi Gary, Sounds nice. Where is the ‘best’ section of WV to move to?
          Retired and getting tired of NYC…

          • Gary

            Hi Dommy
            Bluefield is not bad. Nice and quiet, views of mountains and cheap home prices, not too far from the larger city of Beckley. Not too hot in the summer and winter is not too cold either.
            Or look around Beckley or Oak Hill if you want if you want to be close to medical facilities, new car dealers and some restaurants..

          • Dommy

            Appreciate it, friend.

        • Gary

          I recently looked at the child asthma rates around Dallas and Houston for a family member.

          Some of the TX folks are starting to get upset about choking on the fracking gas, drinking water pollution and petro chemical air pollution, along with the nearby states that have to suck it up. Too bad more is on the way via the Keystone pipeline.

          Do more than the minimum. No more paper exercises. Go further than required. (We’re looking for more than a “goal seek” solution.)

          Aim the plan where smog pollution is worst: Tarrant, Denton, Wise, and Parker Counties. (Asthma rates for children under 14 are THREE TIMES HIGHER (22%) in western DFW area than across the state of TX!)

          The Houston area,

          Janczak is one of 25 million Americans who suffer from asthma, but what distinguishes her and other rural residents in the Houston region — which has the highest prevalence of asthma in Texas — is that, despite her best efforts, she still has ended up in the hospital three times.

          A Houston Chronicle analysis of state health records found that rural Cleveland in Liberty County has the highest rate of hospitalization for asthma-related conditions in the 10-county region. In the Houston area overall, nearly 10,000 people were hospitalized between 2007 and 2009 for asthma, according to data provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

        • Joe Caner

          Well Gary. You just keep on setting a good example and keep shocking your neighbors with your strange diet and exercise habits. You can invite them over for a bean and dumpling stew, and show them just how tasty a vegan diet can be. You just might learn them a thing or two. ;)

          Yeah Walmart, I’ve seen what their produce looks like in some of their Illinois and Indiana stores, and it was no bargain for either quality or variety. I couldn’t vouch safe for So. Cal. where I live because have better alternatives so I never go, or West Virginia where I have only driven through to hike the Appalachian Trail. It’s hard to imagine what depth they would plumb without competition.

          A West Virginia mountain top retreat could definitely be an upgrade to Houston depending on your proximity to the surrounding mining operations and your source of drinking water.

          Perhaps you can organize a farmer’s markets if there aren’t any near by. I imagine that their is some agricultural activity going on somewhere around your domicile.
          Good Luck

  • vegank

    I guess it would be worth buying organic vegetables, or growing your own after all !
    Sometimes we’re given the impression that there is not a big difference , but having this data helps a lot.

  • Alan

    I grow a LOT of my own food – organically. For my wife and i and sell a few. I do use some organic insecticides when needed. I try to avoid them and do most of the time. But i would rather use a little organic or non-organic insecticides for that matter than go to the store and buy conventinal grown food which will have a lot more pesticides on it than i use. {I cannot afford to buy organic from the store.} I build my soil which makes the plants healthier which protects them. Insects like the sick plants. I use row cover over a lot of my plants to keep the insects off which saves from having to spray. By growing my own we get good food and the pleasure of growing them !!!

    • Gary

      I also do some gardening. The cherry tomatoes and hot peppers do best without any trouble other than deer eating some tomato leaves.
      Not so good with the kale and collard greens. Had a major problem with slugs and then some bugs in late summer.
      I hate slugs, but I got their population way down by using RAID ROACH spray on them. They would come out in the daytime when it’s cloudy and raining and crawl on the propane tank and house siding. I’d grab my can of RAID and give them a shot and they would soon fall off and turn into a pile of goo……yuck, nasty things.

      • Alan

        Start your Kale and Collards in late summer and after the weather turns cold you will no longer have the problem with the insects. And the greens will last way up into the winter, depending on where you live and the severity of the winter.

        • Gary

          Thanks for the growing tip Alan. Last yr I trimmed the kale back to a nub and it sprouted nicely this yr on it’s own.
          So far no bugs are out yet, just robins sitting on their eggs under the front and back porches. I’ll see how long all is going well here lasts.

  • vegank

    If a child has a developmental disorder can some of the symptoms like attention span , dyspraxia (motor and verbal apraxia) and sensory problems be reduced by eating organic or is it pretty much hard wired and therefore irreversible?

  • Gary

    A little off topic here,

    Tennessee school kids were served freezer meat from 2009—and in some cases children possibly ate pork roast almost as old as they are.

    Hawkins County officials acknowledged its cafeterias dished out the flaky, six-year-old slabs last week, after a lunchroom worker at an elementary school leaked photos of the mystery meat.

    Parent and county commissioner Michael Herrell told a local TV station that primary-school cooks decided against forking over the ancient grub. The cuts, however, slipped into other schools, including Cherokee High School.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/04/30/schoolkids-served-six-year-old-lunchmeat.html

  • broadriver

    Are organic foods more nutritious? If one goes by taste, then the answer is yes.

    A strawberry that taste like a strawberry is more nutritious than a strawberry that taste more like cardboard.

    If we go by the Brix value, the answer is yes. A strawberry that is farmed well, taste better.

    If we go by the pesticide load, the answer is yes. A strawberry that has a lower pesticide load taste better.

    If we go by the hybridization kind vs the wild ugly looking kind, then the answer is yes. The wild, ugly looking kind are much tastier. (There’s nothing wrong with a pretty looking strawberry, as long as the taste is there! And, a nutrient dense berry taste better!)

    Some of it maybe perception and some of it may be experience, but just the idea of eating a wild or organically grown strawberry taste better.

    And, some of it may just be the Brix value.

    The best tasting oranges I’ve had in over 20 years were wild. They were ugly looking, from a tree that was left alone to grow in the soil in someone’s back yard. The were dense, sweet, dark orange, and acid (had both the sweet and sour). You could taste the vitamin C.

    (If you’ve ever wondered what flavor sweet tarts were trying to fake your body out in getting, that’s right, vitamin C! If they wanted to find out how to improve the flavor of sweet tarts, they would use wild oranges and put the nutrition back in! (And of course, not tell anyone)).

    There’s a saying that says nothing tastes as good as feeling healthy. The healthy you are, the better you feel and the better food tastes!
    .

  • Ray Tajoma

    I rather have pesticides ON my food (I can wash before eating) than INSIDE (Genetically Modified) my food.

  • Thea

    Veganrunner: Thanks!! The volunteers no longer have moderator functions for this site and it was the moderator functions that allowed me to efficiently see everyone’s comments so I could reply when appropriate. I still see some comments, but most of them are on older pages. And then every once in a while, I am able to comment on a new page too, like this time.

    Thanks for your nice note!! And sorry for the rudeness you got. I knew you had it covered, but I couldn’t let it go. It’s best to get people straightened out right away–when they are open to it.

    • Veganrunner

      Oh man we need all the support we can get. I wonder what the thinking was with that decision? Oh well. Don’t go too far!

  • Rhombopterix

    On the road again: How to survive in hotel USAmerica

    I bet some has already written a book about this but here goes. I am on my yearly trip to the USA. I’ll be working here for about 3 weeks. My room has a bar fridge, a microwave and the weirdest way of making coffee i’ve ever seen.

    step 1. take out all the booze and crap out of the fridge and put in a walmart bag.

    step -1. go to walmart and by a pyrex dish about 150 to 200 mm across with a lid.

    Step 3, i mean +2, oh crap, … go to the veg section and find the bags of pre-prepared veg. get 2 or 3 of those (not the lettuce kind, but you know what you need. Also grab a bag of pink grapefruit (which you can eat now because you don’t take the weird medicine they tried to addict you onto), a couple of those really great looking spuds (check for solanine) and also get some corn on the cob. and anything else that is whole food/plantbased of course.

    step next… go to the isle with spices and get some dried onions, chilli pepper flakes, black pepper and turmermeric. Get some rolled oats or similar. get some fresh berries/fruit in season type thing.

    then go to a healthy store that has eden soy or faux milk of your choice….DO NOT FALL FOR something called Silk…its a sugar water icky thing.

    Go back to your room carrying bags and bags of food. Smile as the desk person looks at you like “Hey, thats not pizza and beer!”

    OK, You get it by now. I can’t get over the onslaught of junk food here. I see USA in snapshots each year. And each year it gets so much worse. This morning as I went out to fix a cuppa tea, the woman in front of me was so pathologically obese, trying to make her coffee and push her cart…in looked at the floor to hide my gaze and saw her immensely swollen legs…and the others, also obese but not quite so, with their looks of disgust. I could not stop myself from putting a gentle arm around her and offer to help her. She said thanks, said sorry and carried on on her own. I think she was 30 something. Every step was accompanied with a small gasp of pain.

    It is heart breaking here, just south of Chicago. Next stop is Winston-Salem. Gosh how I hope its better there…but I don’t expect much. USA, from your biggest fan… please try to find some way out of this horror. I beg you..we need you to be strong…you are the worlds great country. However, like the lead in the plumbing of apocrophal Rome, the collapsed societies essentially exhausted their own designs, and were unable to adapt to natural diminishing returns for what they knew as their method of survival. I’m trying to say Open Your MFing Eyes.

    Also, um … if you haven’t seen “Big Bang Theory” it is really hilarious. But don’t watch anything else on TV ok?

    • Thea

      Rhombopterix: Amusing post. But also sad. I often wonder how America/Americans look to outsiders and then cringe at the speculation. re: “And each year it gets so much worse.” That’s my fear. On the other hand, I think we have an up swelling of healthy eating too. It’s like we have a split country – not just in politics, but in our eating. re: “Please try to find…” We’re working on it. As I’m sure you can imagine, we are fighting a tough battle since government, the medical profession, etc are all pretty entrenched.

      re: Big Bang
      Check! ;-)

      • Rhombopterix

        Yesterday, my young technician promised me he was starting WFPB…Asked some good questions. There is hope. I should always stay positive. YOU Thea help me do that. and others but so good to see your name here. Thanks

        Yesterday my boss and i had a biznis dinner. Our waitress figured out my WF status and helped me construct an order that aligned sorta (a kind of bean burger wrap, hold the cheese type thing). “I’m vegetarian too she winked” Yeah!!!

        • Thea

          Rhombopterix: Such nice feedback. You have totally made my day. Thank you.

          You tell stories very well. Sounds like a really good waitress. Best of luck to you!

  • So I have been following this series on Organic Food with great interest. What I want to know is whether or not the studies where the people were fed regular pesticide produced food one week and then organic the next and back to conventional the third week whether or not the people washed their produce or not? I like that you did a talk on washing the produce and what is effective. Did the graphs that were shown in this video show the amounts left in the food after it was washed?

  • Kent Nauman

    Please remember what the lawyers call the risk of living and work on the big risks first. Such as before getting the possibly dangerous pesticides out of our diet, make sure that you are not smoking, that you are getting proper exercise, and that you are already on a state of the art vegan diet. Just eating animal products is clearly a lot more dangerous than residual pesticides.

  • Deborah

    Can anyone tell me the source of the organic foods used in these tests? did the food come from China where the organic food labeling has been falsified? Could it have come from Mexico whose organic standards I do not trust? For instance, last year I bought a package of organic Driscoll strawberries, grown in Mexico, that were delicious. The next week I bought another, they were not tasty and I noticed they had no rich strawberry smell. In fact, they smelled exactly like conventional strawberries, nothing to them. Strawberries will taste like they smell. When you go to the store next time, do the sniff test, organic versus conventional. I would love for you to investigate further. Not only that, but consider also the freshness of each item. Was the organic food 3 days old as opposed to the conventional maybe 1 day old. There are ways to manipulate the data.

  • Mary Ann Roma

    Can someone take a look at this study and tell me how this conclusion could possibly be right???
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20685950?dopt=AbstractPlus

    • baggman744

      I wouldn’t rely too much on studies based on “questionnaires.” Although the participants may believe they’re being honest & accurate with their answers, often their estimates/answers were wrong. Hardly provable scientifically.

  • Diego Hermosillo Hanon

    I don’t understand, however, the dip when children were fed with organic foods. Day one decreased exponentially, day two also did, and day three was the lowest point, why did the levels start to rise in days four and five, then? I don’t think their bodies “expected” the rise of pesticides.

    • Diego Hermosillo Hanon

      Also, that is with exposure of pesticides, what about washing your fruits in the first place? Lol

      • Thea

        Diego: I don’t understand your question/point, but I think you are saying/assuming that washing fruits and vegetables removes all of the pesticides. This is not true, especially the way most people wash. There is a group called the Environmental Work Group (EWG) which evaluates how much pesticides are left on foods *after* the food is prepared the way that most people would prepare them. In other words, if most people would wash an apple before eating it, EWG does the analysis of the pesticides on the apple after it is washed. If most people would peel an orange, then they peel the orange before doing the analysis. Etc.

        And what they found is that there are still pesticides left on those conventional veggies even after washing. Here’s a link if you want more info:
        http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/faq.php#question_9

        • Diego Hermosillo Hanon

          Thanks.
          The first comment was made because the levels of any exogenous chemical in children should remain low if they’re not ingesting said chemical. You expect that from any vitamin to any pesticide. However, the graphs show the levels of said chemicals to increase PRIOR the ingestion of said chemical. Either that or the graph isn’t showing what I thought.

      • Thea

        Diego: I don’t understand your question/point, but I think you are saying/assuming that washing fruits and vegetables removes all of the pesticides. This is not true, especially the way most people wash. There is a group called the Environmental Work Group (EWG) which evaluates how much pesticides are left on foods *after* the food is prepared the way that most people would prepare them. In other words, if most people would wash an apple before eating it, EWG does the analysis of the pesticides on the apple after it is washed. If most people would peel an orange, then they peel the orange before doing the analysis. Etc.

        And what they found is that there are still pesticides left on those conventional veggies even after washing. Here’s a link if you want more info:
        http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/faq.php#question_9

  • Fangorn

    But doesn’t the same apply for “organic” pesticides? Were the levels of those pesticides measured as well?

    • Kris Fowler

      I have the same question…

  • Bobby5939

    Yes organic foods are safer to do the xenoestrogenic compounds in non-organic foods.

    It’s also not as simple as washing the pesticides off your food, it’s a matter of the pesticides leaking into the soil and your foods growing in bad soil.

  • Melinda Hemmelgarn

    Here’s an article I wrote on the topic. As a Registered Dietitian who serves on two organic farming boards, I recommend making the organic choice to protect not only our personal and family health, but also farm worker health, water and air quality.
    http://mosesorganic.org/benefits-of-organic/

  • Khaled

    I have a question regarding organic meat and stuff like that. A friend of mine was arguing that conventional animal product may be unhealthy, but that’s why he only eats organic grass-fed beef, milk and free range chicken and eggs. He also argued that as the case with conventional veggies and fruits being full of pesticides, the same goes with conventional meat so it isn’t about being vegan to be healthy; it’s about eating organic and as “nature” intended it to be (for example: cows should eat grass, not grains and soy). I showed him some of your articles and videos but he says that most of these studies compare conventional meat instead of the more healthier organic alternative. That made me think whether there were any studies that refute what he claims.

    Thanks!

  • mjs_28s

    so just wash your produce with a mild vinegar solution.

    http://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-to-make-your-own-fruit-and-vegetable-wash/

  • Rodrigo Cardoso

    Subtitled into Portuguese / Legendado em Português – http://nf.focoempatico.net/os-alimentos-biologicos-sao-seguros/

  • iamamy

    Do the studies cited use ‘true organic’ produce grown using no chemicals whatsoever, or do they use naturally occurring organic chemicals (some of which may be more harmful than the synthetic chemicals on conventional produce)?

  • adam

    Ok, so the benefit of organic fruit and veggies is clear over conventional produce, but what about organic animal protein? With regard to disease prevention (specifically IGF production), are there any studies that compare conventional animal protein vs local, organic, grass-fed beef?

  • S P Bill

    i developed 100% organic fertilizer to plant my own plant and vegetable, fruits, flower and garden trees.. vegetable fibre are tender , softer and sweeter, my gardens clean without bad smell from checmical fertilizer, in-organic fertilizers. No flies around in my garden, My fertilizer are suitable for all type of plan. When we want to consume real organic food, but are we using real organic fertilizer. I using 100% organic fertilizer my own made,

  • S P Bill

    My fertilizer creating perfect ecology system,,, making the soil PH sustain well and soil automatically re-condition…….This fertilizer contain 21% organic matter.. 0% chemical

  • S P Bill

    when you can compose NPK with different % that mean chemical. CANNOT BE ORGANIC. In Organic fertilizer no Nitrogen(N), P (phosphorus) K (Potassium) ..
    These are agent killing soil engineers… Organic fertilizer are creating soil ecology system and give us healthy food .