Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Organic Food: What’s In It For Me?

By Peter Bowditch

A metastudy analyses the health benefits of eating organic foods.

Peter Bowditch is a former President of Australian Skeptics Inc. (www.skeptics.com.au).

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

I live in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, arguably the national capital of food fads. At a Katoomba café recently I noted that the salt and pepper shakers were labelled “All natural”, the only non-sugar sweetener available for coffee was the “all natural” stevia, and the lack of gluten in the scones ensured that they disintegrated into a pile of crumbs as soon as any attempt to break them in half was made. I sometimes think it would be easier to label the food items on menus that contain gluten rather than those that don’t. It would save printing ink.

Above all this concentration on the components of food and the naturalness of everything there is the umbrella of “organic”. But does it really make any difference if something is labelled “organic” or not, or is it like “Made in Australia” where all the ingredients can be imported but you get a good placebo feeling in the shop? (Foods labelled “Product of Australia” must be made from locally-sourced ingredients.)

There are three commonly-given reasons for choosing organic foods: a desire to stay close to nature and treat nature with respect; a desire to avoid consumption of excessive amounts of chemicals like pesticides and fertilisers; and the belief that organic food is somehow more nutritious. I’ll leave the first of these for another day as it is really part of a belief system and not open to...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.