And here’s an answer you might not have expected from me: IT DEPENDS).

It depends on what we mean when we say “organic,” and what we mean when we say “better.” And what we mean when we say “you.”

If by “you” we mean “the planet, and all life on it,” the answer is a resounding YES! Organic is hands-down better for the planet, and all life on it. Let’s not put hormone-disrupting, cancer-causing chemicals into the air and soil and streams and oceans that take centuries to degrade. I mean, right? We can debate exactly how bad they are. But they’re certainly not good.

If by “better for you” we mean “less pesticides in our food,” then absolutely – organic is better for you. The benefits of a lower-pesticide diet may not be apparent today, this year, even this decade in terms of noticeably better health. But the reduction in long-term disease risk over a lifetime is real.

If by “better” we mean “more nutrients in our food,” then… maybe not. Simply removing the pesticides from a crop doesn’t give it more vitamins, or help it absorb more minerals from the soil, or increase the production of health-promoting phytonutrients. Having said that, growing crops in richer, more nutrient-dense soil will do all of that. And what creates more mineral-rich soil? Crop rotation, natural fertilizers, and traditional farming practices do.

Which brings us back to what “organic” means. There’s the regulatory definition, a.k.a. the minimum standard, which usually means industrial-organic. Giant monocultures produced as efficiently (read profitably) as possible without pesticides, herbicides, etc. But free to cut as many other corners as it can. Which is still a huge step in the right direction. BUT – it’s only about the bad things we avoid.

And then there’s regenerative/biodynamic organic, which is about all the good things we nurture: richer soil, crop biodiversity, animal welfare, regional sustainability, heirloom strains richer in nutrients and flavor, resilient ecosystems; economy (in the deeper sense of the word). Would it be too much to call this the real organ