Maybe you heard the hullabaloo over a 2010 journal review written by a well-known researcher who has spent a lot of time discrediting the nutritional benefits of organic food. In the article, Joseph Rosen, PhD, professor emeritus of food toxicology at Rutgers University, suggested that organic food might not be worth the cost. This "new" review didn't include any new content, or address dozens of recent studies that prove the nutritional value of organic food. Nevertheless, nutritional considerations certainly influence the food choices we make, so it's a worthy conversation to have.
That said, eating organic involves a lot more than the nutritional content of the food itself. In 2010, the mainstream medical community—in the form of the President’s Cancer Panel—took the major step of urging Americans to eat organic food because of its many benefits, including the fact that it's grown without chemicals, pesticides, drugs, and hormones linked to cancer, as chemically grown foods are.
But back to nutritional content, where organic still appears to have an edge over conventional, even if the differences are more complicated to measure than you might think. "We agree that many variables impact the nutrient content of organic and conventional foods, that differences can vary by year, and that more research is needed to accurately quantify the differences," explains Chuck Benbrook, PhD, chief scientist at The Organic Center, which generates peer-reviewed research on organic farming and products. "The [UK-based] Soil Association and The Organic Center have never stated that organic food is always more nutritious,” says Benbrook. “But on average, across years, types of food, soils, genetics, and so on, it’s about 25 percent more nutritious. That’s what the literature shows."