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Organic food: No need to fret

THE BOSTON GLOBE

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Buying organic food has significant advantages, such as eliminating antibiotics and artificial pesticides from your child’s plate and helping the bottom line of small farmers who do not use fertilizers that foul rivers and streams. Yet fans of organic produce shouldn’t be disheartened to learn that its nutritional content is similar to that of conventionally grown produce.

Once viewed as a niche product, organic produce is now served in millions of American homes from the White House on down. But despite a presumption by some consumers that this often-pricy produce is superior to the conventional kind in every conceivable way, a new study by researchers at Stanford University found that organic fruits and vegetables deliver no more vitamins or other nutrients than conventionally grown produce. “I was absolutely surprised,” lead author Dena Bravata told the Associated Press, after her meta-analysis of 237 studies.

This doesn’t mean consumers or the government should stop worrying over how food is produced and the after-effects of that production on the soil, for wildlife, and in our bodies. In fact, the Stanford study should mark only the beginning of a more wide-ranging and in-depth look at food production. Thousands of years after humans began farming, farmers and scientists are still figuring out how to guarantee a supply of food that is safe, sustainable, affordable, and plentiful. And in this process, organic and conventional farmers surely have plenty to learn from one another.

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