Posted by David Granatstein | April 29, 2015
Consumer interest in blueberries as part of a healthy diet has exploded in recent years. Blueberries are considered one of the “superfruits”, full of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. They are also easy to use, especially in breakfasts, where the breakfast smoothie has become a standard way to start the day for many. This new morning pattern continues to create demand for ready to use ingredients such as blueberries. Washington State growers have produced blueberries commercially for many years, but our output has typically been less than our neighbors in Oregon and British Columbia. With the recent demand increases, new blueberry plantings in the state have followed. And the biggest shift is new plantings under irrigation in the Columbia Basin region, managed organically. A new publication on “Trends and Economics of Washington State Organic Blueberry Production” was just published by WSU faculty to help growers and others in the industry understand the current situation and evaluate opportunities for further expansion. Read more »
New Meta-Analysis Identifies Three Significant Benefits Associated With Organically Grown Plant-Based Foods
Posted by Chuck Benbrook | July 11, 2014
There have been four progressively rigorous meta-analyses published since 2009 focusing on differences in the nutritional quality and safety of organic versus conventional food. The latest comes out July 15, 2014 in the British Journal of Nutrition (BJN). I was the sole American scientist on the mostly European research team that produced the BJN paper:
Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. Baranski, M., D. Srednicka-Tober, N. Volakakis, C. Seal, R. Sanderson, G. B. Stewart, C. Benbrook, B. Biavati, E. Markellou, C. Giotis, J. Gromadzka-Ostrowska, E. Rembiałkowska, K. Skwarło-Son, R. Tahvonen, D. Janovska, U. Niggli, P. Nicot and C. Leifert.
Posted by Chuck Benbrook | April 24, 2014
An April 19, 2014 blog post by NPR correspondent Dan Charles discusses Wal-Mart’s plans to develop a substantial new line of organic food products that will be sold at a 25% lower price than other organic brands. The story quotes individuals who question whether Wal-Mart will be able to deliver on the idea without hurting farmers or cutting corners and sacrificing organic integrity, but they may be underestimating the benefits of Wal-Mart’s economy of scale. Read more »
Posted by Chuck Benbrook | February 27, 2014
In its December 20, 2013 issue, the journal Science identified cancer immunotherapy as the science breakthrough of the year. An editorial by the journal’s Editor-in-Chief Marcia McNutt explains the basis for the selection.
She notes that the war on cancer started 40 years ago and has had great success in treating some cancers, while others remain difficult to effectively combat. She also explains that as the baby boomer generation ages, cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality will almost assuredly increase – hence the need for new tools. Read more »
Posted by Chad Kruger | December 11, 2013
My colleague Chuck Benbrook posted a fascinating article this week summarizing his recent paper that evaluates how organic milk impacts human nutrition. If you haven’t read it, you should. In the comments of Chuck’s post, another colleague Andy McGuire inquires and Chuck confirms, the likely reason organic milk is nutritionally superior to conventional milk is the composition of the feed ration (i.e., more grass).
Posted by Chuck Benbrook | December 9, 2013
Dozens of studies, most of them conducted in Europe, have shown higher levels of health-promoting omega-3 fatty acids in organic milk compared to conventional milk, as well as lower levels of omega-6 fatty acids. The National Institutes of Health, in a factsheet on omega-3 fatty acids, reports that:
“Most American diets provide more than 10 times as much omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids. There is general agreement that individuals should consume more omega-3 and less omega-6 fatty acids to promote good health.”
Posted by Chuck Benbrook | July 16, 2013
A growing number of Americans are learning that doctors don’t have miracle cures for all that ails us. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington has just released chilling data on the burden of disease in America, the driving forces behind disease and ill health, and modifiable risk factors for contemporary health problems.
Posted by Chuck Benbrook | February 23, 2013
A flurry of studies in recent years has reported that organic fruits and vegetables are, on average, more nutritious than conventional foods, while another flurry has reported little or no nutritional difference. While most review articles and meta-analysis conclude that Vitamin C, phenolic acids, antioxidant, and some mineral levels are typically higher in organically grown produce, the levels of some other nutrients are often higher in conventional food (e.g., protein, Vitamin A). Opinions vary widely on whether the typically small incremental differences in nutrients between organic and conventional foods are biologically meaningful.
Posted by Chuck Benbrook | October 22, 2012
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy paper entitled “Organic Foods: Health and Environmental Advantages and Disadvantages” on October 22, 2012. It is slated for publication in an upcoming issue of the journal Pediatrics. This new review comes on the heels of a September, 2012 meta-analysis by a team of physicians at Stanford University, which stirred up substantial commentary, and badly needed discussion among scientists of appropriate methods to carry out such reviews (e.g., see my September 4 post, and letters to the editor of “The Annals of Internal Medicine,” especially the excellent letter from WSU colleague Dr. Preston Andrews). Read more »
Posted by Chuck Benbrook | September 4, 2012
A comprehensive paper on the nutritional quality and safety of conventional versus organic food was published in the September 4, 2012 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine (Smith-Spangler et al., Vol. 157, Number 5: pages 349–369). The Stanford University Medical School team concluded that:
“The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods.”
“Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”
Their analysis loosely supports these conclusions, but many devils lurk in the statistical details underlying this study’s findings. For details, see the technical review of the Stanford study. Read more »