Clif Bar, Annie's fund organics study

Clif Bar's Elysa Hammond said not enough research has been done about organic food.

Clif Bar's Elysa Hammond said not enough research has been done about organic food. 

To eat organic, or not to eat organic — that is the question.

But Clif Bar and Annie’s — two California Bay Area-based companies that are committed to using as many organic ingredients in their foods as possible — argue that there’s no question at all. They just need better evidence that the former is better.

Along with a few other organic food champions, like Organic Valley, Whole Foods and Stoneyfield, the Clif Bar Family Foundation and Annie’s are pumping money into a research project that seeks to prove it.

Called Measure to Manage, or M2M, the program is charged with developing a “science-based tool” to measure the sustainability of different food systems and their impact on health.

Led by professor Charles Benbrook at Washington State University, the aim is to have one reliable, evidence-based source of information, instead of compiling data from multiple sources. Take, for example, the now infamous Stanford University study that sparked a huge debate after concluding that organic meat and produce is no more nutritious than conventionally grown foods. Critics challenged that conclusion, and claimed in addition that looking solely at nutritional value is less than a complete picture. It ignores sustainability, the effects of pesticides and other factors that go into food quality.

Clif Bar’s purpose, according to its director of environmental stewardship Elysa Hammond, is to amass scientific evidence to support the organic movement. “We found that there have not been enough studies that have made conclusions of the benefits of supporting agricultural industries that don’t use synthetic chemicals,” she said. “Because when we committed to go organic, wanted to understand the benefits from a sustainable agriculture standpoint.”

Read more in the San Francisco Business Times.

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