Why the Controversy? Let's Celebrate Our Choices Instead9/7/2012 9:46 AM
While we watch the continued media coverage and uproar over Stanford University’s recently published paper (Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives), we are perplexed by the controversy. After all, the Stanford study simply showed that organic and conventionally grown produce are equally nutritious and that both are safe. Isn’t this good news for consumers?
But in the midst of this paper’s release, came another report from USDA’s Economic Research Service. This report showed that 10% of American households were not able to provide their children with “adequate, nutritious” food at times during 2011. Here lies the real issue. Low income consumers already struggle to put healthy and nutritious foods on their tables. This is why the reassurance that more affordable, conventionally grown produce is nutritious and safe is of crucial importance.
To further illustrate this point, a recent consumer survey from the Alliance for Food and Farming found that almost 10% of low income consumers said that they would reduce consumption of fruits and vegetables after hearing the Environmental Working Group’s negative safety messages when promoting their so-called “Dirty Dozen” list. The prevalence of EWG’s scary and misleading messaging is what the Alliance is working diligently to counter with credible, science based information since misguided fears can clearly become a consumption barrier.
Stanford’s findings should reassure all consumers that buying more fruits and vegetables – organic and conventional – is the right thing to do for their families. As our panel of scientists and experts recently concluded in the Scared Fat report: “Regrettably some well-intentioned media and internet reports on food safety may create a situation where some consumers feel like they are making inferior choices when they buy conventionally grown fruits and vegetables rather than organic.” The experts further concluded that it is inaccurate to suggest that organic is the only safe choice when it comes to selecting safe fruits and vegetables.
Like most in the produce industry, the Alliance represents both organic and conventional farmers. There is no “us versus them” mentality that we’ve all seen so much of in blogs, social media or the comment streams. Our message to consumers is simply to choose either with confidence. Both are safe and nutritious so eat more for better health. These recent reports would seem to support this position.
Our industry has done a remarkable job of providing consumers with a wide and abundant array or fruits and vegetables grown safely. Our products are the healthiest in the store! The amount of organic and conventional choices now available should be celebrated. The controversy is unnecessary.
We repeat: Read, learn, choose but eat more with confidence. It’s that simple.