News of Organic Industry
There's no doubt eating organic food can reduce your exposure to pesticides, but the jury remains out on whether organically grown food is inherently more nutritious than food produced using the full chemical armory of conventional agriculture.
Now, new research from Washington State University concludes that when it comes to milk, the organic variety really does have at least one nutritional advantage.
In the first large-scale study to compare milk from organic and conventional dairies across the United States, the researchers found significantly higher levels of heart-healthy fatty acids in organic milk.
The reason is that organically raised cows eat more grass and less corn and other grain-based feed than their conventional counterparts, said lead author Charles Benbrook, of the university's Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources.
"In my judgment, the benefits from this healthy balance of fatty acids in organic milk is the most significant nutritional benefit demonstrated so far for organic food," he said.
Previous studies have suggested that some organic fruits and vegetables contain higher levels of antioxidant chemicals compared with conventional produce. But most major reviews of all the evidence have found little nutritional distinction between organic and conventional foods.
Milk has been the exception, with a few previous studies — particularly in Europe — noting differences in fat composition.
The Washington University study, which was partly funded by the organic farm cooperative Organic Valley, is the biggest so far, analyzing nearly 400 samples of whole milk collected over an 18-month period. The results were published Monday in the journal PLoS ONE.
By SANDI DOUGHTON
THE SEATTLE TIMES