According to the Department for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, “Organic food is the product of a farming system which avoids the use of manmade fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators, and livestock feed additives.” Many people assume that organic food is healthier than conventional food. Is this really the case?
Constructive Debater 1 Henry Countless studies have proven that organic food is healthier than regular food. In 2014, a research paper in the British Journal of Nutrition stated that organic food is higher in nutrients and lower in pesticides than conventionally grown food. The authors reviewed 343 studies to come to this conclusion. Specifically, organic food was found to have more antioxidants. The authors explained, “Many of these compounds have previously been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers.”
Constructive Debater 2 Ashley Organic food and conventional food are pretty similar in terms of nutrition and health benefits. According to a study done by Stanford University scientists in 2012, “No consistent differences were seen in the vitamin content of organic products.” They concluded that there is no “strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods.” In 2009, Dr. Alan Dangour, a British nutritionist, published a study stating that organic and non-organic foods are broadly comparable when it comes to nutrients.
Rebuttal Debater 1 Henry The Stanford University scientists that Ashley quoted also said that they found higher levels of phosphorus in organic food. According to healthline.com, “You need phosphorus to keep your bones strong and healthy, to help make energy, and to move your muscles.” In addition, phosphorus filters out waste in your kidneys, helps your body use and balance vitamins, assists in maintaining a regular heartbeat, and facilitates nerve conduction. If you don’t get enough phosphorus, you can get tired, lose your appetite, and develop bone issues.
Rebuttal Debater 2 Ashley According to the authors of the study that Henry mentioned in his constructive argument, “It is important to point out that there is still a lack of knowledge about the potential human health impacts of increasing antioxidant intake levels and switching to organic food consumption.” This means that we don’t know if antioxidants are actually good for us. In addition, the authors said that the levels of proteins, amino acids, and nitrogen were lower in the organic crops that they tested.
Judge’s Comments The most obvious mistake that Henry made is that he refuted Ashley’s argument with a lecture entirely about phosphorus. What should he have done instead? Well, for one, he could have talked about how consuming organic foods may reduce one’s exposure to pesticide residues. What other flaws do you see?
Chris Hong Copy Editor
1. According to Henry, what happens if you don’t get enough phosphorus?
2. In her argument, why does Ashley mention antioxidants?
3. What was the judge's suggestion for Henry?
1. Who had a more convincing argument to you?
2. Do you agree with the judge's conclusion?
3. Do you personally believe organic foods are healthier than conventional food?
4. Does your household have any guidelines when buying fruits and vegetables?