Organic food not more healthy, study says


CHAMPAIGN -- Something to think twice about before your next trip to the grocery store: New research shows organic foods aren't more nutritious than regular produce.

When you hear the word "organic," the same words often come to grocery shoppers' minds.

"Healthy," said Qin Peng.

"Expensive," Jaclyn Lerman said.

"It's more expensive, but girls like it," said Mike Enders.

But new research at Stanford University found foods in the organic aisle aren't more nutritious than conventionally grown foods.

"The most common perception of organic foods is that they are healthier for you," said LaDonna Jenkins, dietician at Carle Hospital.

Jenkins said 70 percent of Americans don't eat enough fruits and vegetables in the first place. So when it comes to a label, Jenkins says it's a personal preference.

"If they're willing to spend some more money and might be more concerned with environments or the taste, that's fine," Jenkins said. "But as far as nutrition, vitamins and minerals -- they're the same."

But for shoppers like Gail Dahlstedt, there's something else driving her organic buys -- the safety factor.

"Less pesticides, less poisons," Dalhlstedt said. "Just like I wouldn't spray DDT on my skin, I don't want to eat foods that have pesticides on them as well."

The study found non-organic produce still within safety limits. But Jenkins says simply washing vegetables can give added peace of mind.

"If rinse them off well, you get rid of most of the bacteria in pesticides yourself," she said.

Meanwhile, shoppers like Lerman only see the dollar signs.

"I can't afford organic so I just buy what's on sale and what looks good," said Lerman.

And the right price is steering some away from the organic aisle altogether.

"Fried chicken... it's only a dollar and 50 cents," Enders said with a smile.

While eating organic doesn't show any short-term health effects, experts agree long-term studies should be done.

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