NEW YORK, USA, October 2, 2012 (by Mark Bittman, food critic at the New York Times): A widely publicized study recently done at Stanford misleadingly suggested that there is no "strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods."
In fact, the Stanford study -- actually a meta-study, an analysis of more than 200 existing studies -- does say that "consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria." But the study narrowly defines "nutritious" as containing more vitamins. (By that standard, you can claim that, based on nutrients, Frosted Flakes are a better choice than an apple.) Yet even within its narrow framework, it appears the Stanford study was incorrect. Last year Kirsten Brandt, a researcher from Newcastle University, published a similar analysis of existing studies and wound up with the opposite result, concluding that organic foods are actually more nutritious. In examining the Stanford study she has found a critical error in properly identifying a class of nutrients, a spelling error indicative of biochemical incompetence (or at least an egregious oversight) that skewed one important result, and also that the researchers curiously excluded evaluating many nutrients that she found to be considerably higher in organic foods.
It turns out that Cargill (the largest privately held company in the United States, and a major manufacturer of nonorganic agricultural products) provides major financing for Freeman Spogli (which supported the research) and that's inspired a petition to retract the findings.