Organic foods don't seem to be nutritionally superior to conventionally raised foods, and there's no proof that eating them translates into less disease, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics. But the report also notes that organic foods do have lower levels of pesticides, and that organically raised animals are less likely to be contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria, points that Consumer Reports' experts also stress.
"While we wait for more research it's important to note that organic diets provide less exposure to pesticides and antibiotics, two important safety benefits," says Michael Hansen, Ph.D., a senior scientist at Consumers Union. "We feel strongly that it's worth paying extra for organic milk and meat to avoid exposure to pesticides and antibiotics," he says.
There are some ways you can save on organic foods. For example, they often cost less at farmers markets, many of which accept foods stamps. Or try buying lots of produce during the growing season and then canning or freezing it. And look for coupons, something many organic dairies now offer on their websites. Finally, if you're buying organic to reduce exposure to pesticides, then it pays to buy organic types of the produce that tends to have the highest levels of those chemicals, including apples, berries, grapes, bell peppers, potatoes, and green beans.
Our earlier investigation found that although there are lots of 'no antibiotics' choices in supermarkets, you have to learn how to decipher product labeling. For more, read our report, Antibiotics are widely used by U.S. meat industry.
Organic Foods: Health and Environmental Advantages and Disadvantages [Pediatrics]