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Wellness

The Environmental Outcomes of Organic Food Consumption

Study links diets to greenhouse gas emission, energy and land demands

The Lempert Report

A just-published study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 109, April 2019, was designed to compare some sustainability features of diets from consumers with varying levels of organic food.

The diet sustainability study was conducted among 29,210 participants of the NutriNet-Sante study and was estimated using databases developed within the BioNutriNet project. Four dimensions (nutrition, environment, economy and toxicology) of diet sustainability were assessed using nutritional indicators through dietary intakes and dietary scores, and BMI; environmental indicators (greenhouse gas emissions, cumulative energy demand and land occupation); economic indicators via diet monetary costs; and estimated daily food exposures to 15 pesticides.

The results indicated that higher organic food consumption was associated with higher plant-food and lower animal-food consumption, overall nutritional quality (higher dietary scores) and lower BMI. Diet-related greenhouse gas emissions, cumulative energy demand and land occupation gradually decreased with increasing organic food consumption, whereas total diet monetary cost increased. Diet exposure to most pesticides decreased across quintiles.

The conclusions were that diets of high organic food consumers were generally characterized by strong nutritional and environmental benefits. The latter were mostly driven by the low consumption of animal-based foods, whereas the production system was responsible for the higher diet monetary costs and the overall reduced dietary pesticide exposure.

There seems to be no surprises here. What would have been really interesting if in the same study of more than 29,000 people, they would have tried to link health outcomes, such as blood pressure, heart disease, cancers and other diseases to finally have significant data to share if organics do have an impact on our health.

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