Last month, a study by scientists Dena Bravata and Crystal Smith-Spangler declared that organic food is no more nutritious than those produced through conventional (a.k.a industrialized) farming methods. Fed on a regular diet of controversy, media outlets quickly disseminated their findings across airwaves and Twitterverse.

The Stanford School of Medicine summed up the study’s shocking claim:

“There isn’t much difference between organic and conventional foods, if you’re an adult and making a decision based solely on your health,” said Dena Bravata, MD, MS, the senior author of a paper comparing the nutrition of organic and non-organic foods, published in the Sept. 4 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

So all that organic kasha and milk and fruit we’ve paying through the nose for at Whole Foods has been a hoax?! Back it up just one moment. New York Times columnist and food writer Mark Bittman didn’t like the implications. Sparing very little niceties, Bittman said:
[pullquote]“[T]he study was like declaring guns no more dangerous than baseball bats when it comes to blunt-object head injuries. It was the equivalent of comparing milk and Elmer’s glue on the basis of whiteness. It did, in short, miss the point.”[/pullquote]
He picks apart some of the foundational assumptions supporting the study, questioning for one thing its definition of “nutritious.” Comments at the end of Bittman’s piece continue the discussion, with readers hopping on both sides. The Atlantic has pointed out the flaws in trying to frame similar studies in simple, blurb-sized pieces.

Still this isn’t the first debate over organic food, and it certainly won’t be the last.

[via The New York Times]