Stanford Questions Value of Organics
And I Question Stanford

Recently The New York Times, NPR and numerous media outlets published articles highlighting the results of Stanford University’s study of organic food with tabloid-style headlines like “Stanford Scientists Cast Doubt on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce” and “Why Organic Food May Not Be Healthier For You” none of which made me, or any of us in the wellness community very happy.

After spending years working to educate patients on the importance of fueling their bodies for optimal health, I was frankly ticked off by the dismissive headlines which, in just a matter of days, wreaked havoc in the minds of millions health-conscious consumers and making those on the fence think, why bother? Even a few of my patients said “Hey Doc, what’s up with this?” – so it seemed that a rational response was in order. Here’s my take on media-made mess – and why I continue to have no doubt that eating organic is still the smartest choice for anyone who cares about his or her health:

1.) Stanford’s study was a massive number crunch.

If you’ve ever had any dealings with statistics, then you know how easily they can be crunched, manipulated, spun and interpreted to back-up just about any point you care to make. They don’t call it a “numbers game” for nothing. Take that idea and multiply it by the studies whose numbers were crunched. At the core of a “meta-analysis” like this one is it’s fundamental limitation – they are just re-crunching old data, some of questionable value – not new on-the-ground, in-the-lab research. And the interpretation and understanding the results is very much in the eye of the beholder. Simply put, numbers can lie – or in this case mislead millions of intelligent people by the time it trickles down to them in article form.

2.) Stanford’s study missed the point of buying organic.

The Stanford study arrived at its numbers, but it couldn’t or didn’t factor in the fundamental reason most people buy organics in the first place: they’re poison-free! The number one reason my colleagues and I encourage everyone to eat organics is because they’re grown without poisonous chemical pesticides, which means fewer toxins entering our bodies and endangering our health. We’re also pro-organics because they’re kinder to the earth, the people who farm it and those who harvest it – making buying organic a moral decision as well as a healthy one. Large-scale corporate farming, with its crop-dusting, gene-splicing, industrial runoff etc., is about maximum yield and weather and bug-resistance. The big corporations don’t care about the impact of their methods on your body. It’s simply not about you – but when it comes to eating, shouldn’t it be? If you ask me, low toxic loads, more anti-oxidants, taste and freshness should not be an afterthought – and with organics, they’re not. So take that, number-crunchers.

3.) Stanford’s study weakly admits organics have more anti-oxidants and fewer pesticides.
As the risk of damning the Stanford study altogether, to its credit, the study does acknowledge that organics have lower levels of pesticides and more anti-oxidants than conventionally grown food. OK, so now we’re getting somewhere, but those findings are hardly news to us in the wellness community and common sense doesn’t make for attention-grabbing headlines. When all is said and done, the organic vs. conventional argument all comes down to how many chemicals and poisons – whose long-term effects can be catastrophic – are we willing to ingest? I think we all know the answer to that one, studies be damned.

4.) So what are you going to do about it?
Ultimately, it’s about doing all you can to keep poisons out of your body and fueling it with the best food you can afford. Food that’s organic, fresh, locally grown, bought at the farmer’s market – all of it can go a long way to creating and sustaining optimal health. Even agro-business isn’t corrupt enough to try to make that kind of claim – they know their stuff is crap, and that we are on to them. However, the one lament I do hear about organics is that they’re more expensive than conventional and going all organic can be a financial challenge. I can’t argue with that but to keep costs in check, you can buy produce strategically to save money. To help you determine how to spend your money wisely, download a copy of the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list and “Clean 15” lists. The lists identify which conventional produce items aren’t loaded with pesticides – and which ones you’re better off buying organic. To download a copy of the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen list, click to 
For more ideas on how to buy organic without breaking the bank, check out


For Dr. Frank Lipman, health is more than just the absence of disease: it is a total state of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social wellbeing. Dr. Lipman is a widely recognized trailblazer and leader in functional and integrative medicine, and he is a New York Times best-selling author of five books, How To Be Well, The New Health Rules, 10 Reasons You Feel Old and Get Fat, Revive and Total Renewal.

After his initial medical training in his native South Africa, Dr. Lipman spent 18 months working at clinics in the bush. He became familiar with the local traditional healers, called sangomas, which kindled his interest in non-Western healing modalities.

In 1984, Dr. Lipman immigrated to the United States, where he became the chief medical resident at Lincoln Hospital in Bronx, NY. While there, he became fascinated by the hospital’s addiction clinic, which used acupuncture and Chinese medicine to treat people suffering from heroin and crack addiction. Seeing the way these patients responded so positively to acupuncture made him even more aware of the potential of implementing non- Western medicine to promote holistic wellbeing. As a medical student, he was taught to focus on the disease rather than the patient, and now as a doctor he found himself treating symptoms rather than the root causes of illness. Frustrated by the constraints of his training, and the limitations in helping his patients regain true health, he began a journey of discovery to search for the path to meaningful long-term health and wellness.

He began studying nutrition, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, herbal medicine, functional medicine, biofeedback, meditation, and yoga. Dr. Lipman founded the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in 1992, where he combines the best of Western medicine and cutting edge nutritional science with age-old healing techniques from the East. As his patient chef Seamus Mullen told The New York Times, "If antibiotics are right, he'll try it. If it's an anti-inflammatory diet, he’ll do that. He’s looking at the body as a system rather than looking at isolated things."

In addition to his practice, Dr. Lipman is the creator of Be Well, an expanding lifestyle wellness brand he founded in 2010 to help people create, sustain and lead healthier lives.