By Damian Mann, Medford Tribune | May 22, 2015
Demand for organic foods keeping growing, and big box retailers and mainstream grocery chains, from Walmart to Costco, have jumped in.
Consumer demands for organic foods in the U.S. continue to explode. Sales of organic food and non-food products totaled $39.1 billion in 2014, up 11.3 percent from the previous year—with sales of organic food alone accounting for $35.9 billion, according to the Organic Trade Association.
But controversy has dogged the organic food industry. Just what does it mean to be organic and are they really better for you than conventional foods?
With more and more organic products flying off the shelves, most consumers believe they are getting a healthier product, regardless of price. But is that true? That depends on who you believe.
Nova Scotia Organics’ Nancy Smithers said that research compiled from 50 studies comparing traditionally produced food to organic showed that organics have a higher nutritional value 40 percent of the time where nonorganic foods have a higher nutritional value only 15 percent of the time. And, a study released last year by Great Britain’s Newcastle University said that organic crops are up to 60 percent higher in a number of key antioxidants than conventionally-grown ones.
But not all agree.
“Organic junk food is still junk food. And conventional fresh, health food is still healthy,” said Rene Ficek, a registered dietician and lead nutrition expert at Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating, an Illinois based firm that sells dietary meal programs.
Even the famed Mayo Clinic on its website says that organic products may not be as nutritious as believed.