New Study questions value of organic produce

As soon as the organic vegetables from the Common Thread farm arrived at the Downtown Syracuse Farmers Market on Tuesday, the regular customers started lining up. The farm offered fresh green beans, plump beets and leafy greens - all grown without pesticides or chemicals.

"Would you want to buy something that's been sprayed with pesticides and eat it? I wouldn't," said Rosa Pascarella as she picked out some tomatoes from a wooden crate.

Growing organically takes more work and it costs more but a new study is questioning if the benefits live up to the costs. Researchers from Stanford University looked at 240 different studies and found conventional produce had more pesticide residue than organic produce, but that it was generally below accepted levels. The report also says that organic and conventional produce have the same nutritional value.

Many farmers said the study focused too much on nutrition and left out out the much bigger picture of organic farming

Larry Bonanni piles hay on top of of his organic crop at the Ransom Hill Garlic farm instead of pesticides to keep insects away. Bonanni says the new study looks at what is in organic foods but doesn't spend enough time on what is left out. Bonanni says imported garlic is often bleached white and full of preservatives so it can be sold months after it is picked.

"The study is narrowed in on nutrition of organic food not the pesticides that are going into the land to produce this food," said Bonanni.

At the farmer's market today, many people said nutrition was just one reason to buy organic. Wendy Sherman said it is also about being able to buy from local farms - and know that the produce is fresh

"Having good quality organic produce, if they can do that with fewer inputs then I think there's a benefit to that - especially if it's less competitive," said Sherman.

Several farmers added that organic practices also take good care of the farmland and keep it sustainable for future generations.