Sunday, September 30, 2012

Study Says Organic Food Not Healthier than Regular Food

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. organic (adj.) 
[awr-gan-ik] – not making use of chemicals
ExampleOrganic fruits are expensive, but they are also very delicious.

2. conventional (adj.) [kuh n-ven-shuh-nl] – standard, ordinary or common
Example: Using chemicals is a conventional way to protect plants from pests.

3. contaminant (n.) [kuh n-tam-uh-nuh nt] – something that makes another thing unclean or unsafe
Example: I try to carefully wash vegetables to remove contaminants. 

4. residue (n.) [rez-i-doo, -dyoo] –something that stays or remains on something
Example: We could see oil residues from the used frying pan.

5. anecdote (n.) [an-ik-doht] – a short report of an interesting event
Example: He shared an anecdote about what happened during his dinner with friends.

Read the text below.

A study by researchers from Stanford University and Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System suggests that organic food is not healthier or more nutritious than conventional food products.

Lead author Dr. Crystal Smith-Spangler and her colleagues studied over 200 works that assessed the health of people who ate organic food. Researchers also looked at studies that compared the levels of nutrients and contaminants found in both organic and conventional poultry, eggs, milk, vegetables, fruits and grains.

The results showed that the nutritional content of organic and conventional food was the same, although organic food had only a little more phosphorous, a nutrient that builds strong bones. A few studies also said organic chicken and milk might have more omega-3 fatty acids which are also beneficial to health.

The research said that only 7% of the organic food in the studies had pesticide residue, while residue was found on more than 33% of the conventional food samples.

According to the researchers, the level of chemical residue in both conventional and organic food is often within the limit set by the US Department of Agriculture. As such, it can be hard to tell how the difference in levels of chemical residue in both foods affects people’s health.

Despite the study’s results, many people remain supporters of organic food. Chensheng Lu, a student at the Harvard School of Public Health, said Smith-Spangler’s study was based only on anecdotes. It did not prove that conventional food is safer. He believes that until more studies are done, choosing organic food is still the best way to protect one’s health.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you believe that organic food is better than regular food? Why do you say so?
·         Would you still want to buy organic food if it would be proven to have just the same health benefits as regular food?

Discussion B

·         What is the most important factor to consider when buying food (e.g., price, taste, health benefits, etc.)? Please explain your answer.
·         How can we encourage people to buy and to eat healthier food?


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