Organic agriculture is good for the earth, keeps soil healthy, fosters biodiversity, and recycles organic material without using any of those nasty synthetic chemicals. So if it's good for the earth, then it's good for us, right? Maybe, maybe not.
We know that conventional farming leaves nasty metals like arsenic, lead, cadmium, nickel, mercury and zinc behind, but could these same toxins exist in organic soil?
Yes, says Slate.
Scientists have known since the 1920s that organic fertilizers used by farmers to supplement conventional systems—composted animal manure, rock phosphates, fish emulsions, guano, wood ashes, etc.—further contaminate topsoil with varying concentrations of heavy metals. Organic advocates, who rely exclusively on these fertilizers, remain well aware of the problem today, although they rarely publicize the point.
The verdict is still out on whether organic soil is worse than soil treated with chemicals, but some studies have documented higher levels of metals in organically grown produce, and we know the effects these metals can have on our health: cardiovascular and neurological disorders as well as kidney and liver damage.
So, now we might risk our health by eating organic?
All products linked here have been independently selected by our editors. We may earn a commission on purchases, as described in our affiliate policy.