It’s an epic three-way battle this week — organic vs conventional vs …science. Three out of every four American grocery stores sell organic products, but what are you really getting when you buy them? Better taste? Fewer toxic chemicals? A cleaner environment? Farmers Mark, Andy, and Brian Reeves, nutritional epidemiologist Dr. Kathryn Bradbury, Prof. Cynthia Curl, and Prof. Navin Ramankutty help us sort it all out.
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This episode has been produced by Heather Rogers, Lynn Levy, Caitlin Kenney, Austin Mitchell, and Kaitlyn Sawrey. Editing by Annie-Rose Strasser and Alex Blumberg. Fact checking by Michelle Harris. Production Assistance by Diane Wu and Shruti Ravindran. Special thanks to Stevie Lane and Joseph Lavelle Wilson. Sound design and music production by Matthew Boll, mixing by Martin Peralta and Haley Shaw. Music written by Bobby Lord.
- Who’s buying organic food? And why?
Hughner et al, “Who are organic food consumers? A compilation and review of why people purchase organic food,” Journal of Consumer Behavior, 2007
- Organic vs conventional tomato taste test
Johansson et al, “Preference for tomatoes, affected by sensory attributes and information about growth conditions,” Food Quality and Preference, 1999
- Nutritional analysis of organic vs organic food
Smith-Spangler et al, “Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?: A Systematic Review,” Annals of Internal Medicine, 2012.
- 2012 USDA report on pesticide residues in organic produce
- Largest (620,000 women) long-term (9 year) study of how eating organic food affects human health — focusing on cancer
Bradbury et al, “Organic food consumption and the incidence of cancer in a large prospective study of women in the United Kingdom”, British Journal of Cancer, 2014
- Biodiversity is higher on organic farms
“Tuck et al, “Land-use intensity and the effects of organic farming on biodiversity: a hierarchical meta-analysis,” The Journal of Applied Ecology, 2014.
- Nitrogen leaching is higher per unit product on organic farms
Tuomisto et al, “Does organic farming reduce environmental impacts? – A meta-analysis of European research”
- Crop yield on organic farms is on average 75% that of conventional farms
Seufert et al, “Comparing the yields of organic and conventional agriculture,” Nature 2012
- If we want to feed the world without cutting down more forests, we’re going to need more vegetarians
Erb et al, “Exploring the biophysical option space for feeding the world without deforestation,” Nature Communications, 2016
- On combining organic and conventional farming techniques
Letourneau et al, “Crop protection in organic agriculture,” Chapter 4 of Organic agriculture: a global perspective, 2006.