09/05/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Great Organic Benefits Debate

Summertime & the Livin' is Easy...

I know I should be happy-go-lucky this month, I really do. It's August and everyone's lounging on the beach, playing hooky from work and generally just sipping lemonade all day long, but there's something that has me so fired up that I just can't let it slide. So forgive the seriousness of my missive, and don't let this become rain on your summer parade ... just let it help reinforce what you already know to be true.

Last week, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition released something they call a "systematic review" of the nutritional quality of organic foods, and you know what? They determined that there are no significant differences between the nutritional content of organic and conventional foods. This story was picked up by what seemed to be every news outlet on the planet, and consumer reactions can more or less be summed up as: "Aha! Just as we thought! Another great hoax perpetrated upon us to get us to spend more money."

For those of us who are passionately committed to spreading the "organic gospel," this was not welcome news. Not that we actually believe or accept the findings of the review, but we already deal daily with feedback from adults who may have "survived" growing up on processed, non-organic fare, and their mentality is often that of, "well, it didn't kill me, so it probably won't kill my kid." Sadly, that this isn't necessarily so, as the stakes are much higher today, what with a frequently polluted food supply. This generation has to dodge all sorts of nutritional bullets, from pesticide residue to tainted packaging.

Luckily, there is a voice of sanity in all this, as the Organic Trade Association took on the broader questions of "what is health?" versus "what is nutrition?" and emphatically declared that a food system which does not include pesticides, synthetic growth hormones and antibiotics, while generating healthy soil and protecting natural resources absolutely does promotes good health and nutrition. Amen! (Read OTA"s Statement here.)

The days that followed the initial wave of anti-organic feedback have since been filled with voices of outrage; and thank goodness for that. So, as you bask in the glow of summer's final month -- eating outdoors and enjoying the season's bounty -- please do try to choose foods not treated with harsh chemicals and pesticides, or grown amid sewage sludge. By the way, you'll also be opting to promote soil fertility, combat climate change, protect farmers' health and livelihoods and more. And that matters, nutritionally and otherwise.