Debate Over Benefits of Organic Food Heats Up

The market for organic food is exploding, and as any star of teen movies can tell you, with success comes backlash. Some of the organic-food industry’s more enthusiastic backers have made lofty claims about the health benefits the foods confer, and now some scientists (and some industry-backed “scientists”) are tossing cold water on the love-fest. On two key claims — that organic food is intrinsically healthier (more vitamins, you see) and that it has lower levels of pesticide residue — skeptics point to a lack of peer-reviewed studies. Skeptics also point out that organic food is likelier to have, er, poop on it. (Here we pause for a public service announcement: Wash your produce.) The Organic Trade Association, acknowledging the lack of hard data and hoping to forestall the efforts of industry-backed faux debunkers, last year launched the Organic Center for Education and Promotion to bolster the scientific case in support of organics.