Health Alert: Organic vs. conventional foods

NATIONAL - American consumers spent $15 billion in 2004 on organic foods, and experts say that amount could double by 2009. Why? Well, it may not be just for the health of it.

If you've ever compared the price of organic foods to those grown the conventional way, you may get a taste of the sticker shock.

"It will cost more under almost every circumstance," says Dr. Alan York. "It will cost more. Sometimes as much as 50% more."

Purdue agricultural experts say it's a problem of supply and demand, and that converting land to grow organic is expensive.

Dr. York said, "There's no question but what, it's easier to farm conventionally than it is organically."

More and more Americans are willing to pay for it.

Dr. Corinne Alexander says, "They like the fact that, in organic production, there aren't any pesticides in fertilizers used, and that when it comes to organic livestock, there aren't any antibiotics used, there aren't any hormones used."

That said, the jury's still out on whether organic foods are better for you. The research is just getting off the ground.

Dr. Alexander says, "As we've seen with all sorts of health food studies, you have one study saying one thing, the next year the study says something else."

Despite the lack of scientific evidence, many assume organic foods are more nutritious and safer to eat than those grown on a conventional farm.

Said Dr. York, "Choosing organic versus conventional to a significant degree becomes philosophical. You feel better because you're feeding your family organic."

Dr. Alexander says, "A very health aware consumer is willing to say 'okay, well I'm not 100% sure this is better for me, but on the chance that it is, I'm willing to pay more.'"

Willing to pay more on the notion that it's better to be safe than sorry.

You can find out more about organic foods by visiting the Organic Trade Association at .

Posted by Bryce Mursch