By Marcie Barnes
(This post is a Research Proposal and part of an assignment for the class I am taking, Global Impact of New Communication Technologies at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I hope you will join me as I investigate the nutritional differences between foods grown, distributed and processed in different ways.)
A few weeks ago, I found myself reaching for a can of Del Monte Fruit Cocktail in my pantry because I was out of fresh fruit for my son. As I opened the can, I noticed a new message on the label containing the words: “Same nutrients as fresh!” This claim startled me and then made me angry. As I’ve stated time and time again, I have become increasingly disheartened by what I perceive to be downright inaccurate and false marketing claims by companies who are trusted by the general public.
There has been a continuous debate in our household as to whether organic, fresh and unprocessed foods are worth their higher cost. On average, organic produce costs 50% more. I have every reason to believe that organic and less-processed foods, for a variety of reasons, deliver far greater health benefits than their commercially-grown, highly processed counterparts. My husband argues it is a waste of money to purchase organic products. So, the question has been lingering in my mind for quite some time: how can I prove to him (and others) that the nutritional differences in organic, unprocessed foods are significant enough to justify the increased cost of “going organic”?
A cursory search for nutrition information on fresh vs. canned pears confirmed my suspicions. A quick study of the numbers in the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference showed that there is indeed a significant difference when you compare the nutrients found in fresh and canned pears. Quickly comparing the nutrients between organic and conventional foods has proven more difficult. I hope to find more information through my research and possibly utilize the Department of Food Science at North Carolina State University, where they perform nutrition information analysis.
With my results, I hope to end the debate once and for all and prove that you do get what you pay for when it comes to purchasing food. It is unfortunate that people (notably in low-income situations) often rely on highly processed foods because they are always the cheaper alternative. I believe we are sacrificing our health in order to save money, which ironically costs us dearly in the end with skyrocketing health care costs. What is the real price of cheap food?
organic produce nutrition, canned vs. fresh, produce quality, malnutrition processed foods, organic cost
Web Address: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/10587.php
Brief Description: This article is found on Medical News Today – described as “The number one ranked (Google and Yahoo!) website for medical news. Independent, authoritative and unbiased news from thousands of sources around the globe, divided into over 100 therapy areas (disease/condition categories).” - it contains a lot of information and studies on this subject (cited) that I would like to read and research further.
Title: Wikipedia: Organic Food
Web Address: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_food
Brief Description: This entry on organic food contains additional (cited) studies and articles I would like to read, in particular the criticisms of organic food.
Title: When buying organic pays (and doesn't)
Web Address: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/food/diet-nutrition/organic-products/organic-products-206/when-buying-organic-pays-and-doesnt/index.htm
Brief Description: This is a collection of linked articles on this topic from Consumer Reports, a trusted independent testing & reporting venue. I am looking forward to reading about their findings on this topic.
Title: The Soil Association: “Get the facts” page
Web Address: http://www.soilassociation.org.uk/web/sa/saweb.nsf/4042794258a20f4280256a680046b77e/30f6f6ee0d6a3a4a802571bc00442a17!OpenDocument
Brief Description: This web site is “the UK's leading campaigning and certification organisation for organic food and farming.” The “Get the Facts” page lists reasons for buying organic, and links each reason to a plethora of information and research to back up each claim.
Title: Malnutrition Matters (Background Page)
Web Address: http://www.malnutrition.org/background.html
Brief Description: This website discusses global malnutrition issues and what types of foods/food improvements are needed to fight malnutrition. I would like to explore this topic further as it relates to food quality vs. cost.