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The Organic Center Releases Groundbreaking Report

Quantifying the Nutritional Quality and Pesticide Risk Level of an Average Daily Diet
by Chuck Benbrook
September 18, 2011

The Organic Center, a leading research and education institute focused on the science of organic food and farming, today announced the release of a groundbreaking new report – Transforming Jane Doe’s Diet. The report, which was developed using state-of-the-art analytical tools and data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency, determines the nutritional quality and pesticide risk of a typical diet for a 30-year old woman (Jane Doe).

The specific nutrient-related impacts of the changes were evaluated based on The Organic Center’s recently released “Nutritional Quality Index” (TOC-NQI) and demonstrates how a modest set of dietary changes can deliver immediate nutritional benefits and improve an average person’s long-term health. “This is the first-ever analysis to offer recommendations on how to reduce the pesticide risk level and increase the nutritional quality of an average person’s daily diet,” said Joan Boykin, Executive Director for The Organic Center. “We are particularly proud of this report and can only hope that it will further incentivize consumers to make the simple dietary changes that can improve their health, as well as the environment in which we live.”

The report was developed by examining Jane Doe’s “before” diet, which mirrors what an average woman may eat in her 20’s. Jane Doe is now 30 years old and gained 10 pounds in her 20s as a result of her diet. She is determined to prevent any further weight gain and is also planning for her first pregnancy, which has led her to pay extra-close attention to her dietary choices.

Jane Doe’s “after” diet includes several smarter yet modest food changes. This includes replacing several high-calorie foods with nutrient-dense fruit and vegetable-based products, and purchasing mostly organic fruits, vegetables, and grain-based products.

Over half of Jane’s “before” diet remained unchanged. However, by making a few simple modifications, her daily intake of fruits and vegetables rose from 3.6 servings to 12.3 servings, her overall nutritional quality rose by 79 percent (based on a comparison of intakes across 27 essential nutrients), and by consuming mostly organic fruits and vegetables, her pesticide risk was reduced by over two-thirds. Jane Doe also consumed 10 fewer calories per day, which is enough to prevent long-term weight gain approaching 10 pounds per decade, assuming Jane remains at least as active as in her 20s.

“Jane Doe’s smart food choices will help stabilize her weight, improve the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy, and markedly reduce the chance that pesticides might disrupt or impair her child’s development. This trio of benefits will pay dividends over a lifetime, and perhaps also across generations,” according to report author Charles Benbrook, the Center’s Chief Scientist. This substantial increase in overall nutritional quality is good news for Jane’s overall health. It will markedly reduce her odds of developing diet related health problems, help set the stage for a healthy pregnancy, and boost her immune system.

A list of the top 8 things Jane replaced, which can easily be replicated by everyday consumers, is included below: 1. Whole wheat bread instead of white bread

2. Peanut butter instead of butter

3. Fresh, organic strawberries instead of strawberry jam

4. Plain yogurt topped with fruit instead of fruit-filled yogurt

5. Tomato juice instead of a lemon-lime soda

6. 50% whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta

7. One whole apple instead of apple pie

8. Light cream instead of coffee creamer

“Many of my patient’s parents who are struggling to slow weight gain, or trying to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes are eating a lot like Jane Doe, before her change in priorities,” according to Dr. Alan Greene, a pediatrician and Organic Center board member. “Nutrient deficiencies of the magnitude documented in this report will almost certainly have negative, long-term health consequences, and pregnant and nursing women and children are by far the most vulnerable. It is important to recognize how simple dietary changes can greatly alter a person’s long-term health.” The Organic Center relied upon its newly developed “Nutritional Quality Index” (TOC-NQI) in calculating the nutrient-related impacts of changes in Jane Doe’s diet. Full details on the TOC-NQI are described in the Center’s report Identifying Smart Food Choices on the Path to Healthier Diets ( The methods used to project changes in pesticide dietary risk are presented in The Organic Center’s “Dietary Risk Index” – Tracking Relative Pesticide Risks in Foods and Beverages ( Jane Doe’s total pesticide risks from the foods in her “before” and “after” diets were quantified using The Organic Center’s Dietary Risk Index (DRI).

The Jane Doe Diet report can be accessed free of charge via The Organic Center’s websites - and

About The Organic Center

The Organic Center's unique mission is to advance credible, evidence-based science on the health and environmental benefits of organic food and farming and to communicate them to the public. As an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) research and education organization, we envision improved health for the earth and its inhabitants through the conversion of agriculture to organic methods. All of The Organic Center's research reports, publications, consumer guides and videos are available free of charge via the following websites: and

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