ABINGDON, Va. - It has been debated for years -- is organic food better for you? A new study breaks down the differences between organic and conventional produce.
"Research that's been done over the years shows that the differences are insignificant in terms of differences of nutritional value," says Phil Blevins.
However, we learned that aside from the nutrition there is a bigger problem. "I don't have time to go out there and hand pick bugs off my stuff," said local farmer Kevin Leonard.
Leonard grows a wide variety of foods including beans, tomatoes and corn, and tells us he has been doing it for years. He says his farm is not certified as an organic one, but he uses many of the same chemicals that organic farmers do and he does not believe there is anything wrong with his vegetables -- his grandkids love it. "They'll take an ear of corn straight out of the field and they'll eat it right there," said Leonard.
According to the study listed in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, pesticide residue was found in seven percent of organic produce and in 38 percent of conventional produce.
Officials at the Appalachian Sustainable Development say that they believe it is higher than that. "It is a way of growing food that takes in the whole ecosystem approach by trying to build a healthy living soil so that the nutrients and vitamins that the plants need to grow are provided through the soil, rather than through some liquid fertilizer," said Tom Peterson.
We learned that both organic and conventional farmers use chemicals, but the type of chemical is the difference. Peterson told us that the chemicals put on plants in organic farms have a limited active time. That means the chemicals in the spray break down quickly after being used, making them being less harmful to your body and to the environment.
"A lot of the chemicals that are applied in conventional production end up in our water system and end up polluting rivers and water supplies that people are drinking downstream," said Peterson. He continued to add that it can also be harmful to the workers who are dealing with the products every day.
Peterson says if you are still on the fence about organic produce, buy local where you can ask farmers directly about their practices. "Whether conventional or organic, it's going to be a tastier and healthier option for you," said Peterson.
Peterson also told us that the studies for nutrition of organic foods are still in the early stages and he believes it will show good results later on down the road.