Saturday, July 21, 2007

Wham: Validation of the Value of Organic Produce?

Perhaps you've chosen organic produce, as my family has, and yet you really don't know if the extra expense is worthwhile. Well, you can relax, because research is starting to come in about the nutritional content of that organic produce. The benefits may, if this research continues to bear fruit (sorry, couldn't help it), go further than just reducing the amount of pesticides in your body.

Take the tomato, for example, which is a relatively "hot" organic, selling at a 19% increase annually. According to new research, organically grown tomatoes contain higher levels of beneficial flavonoids. The science, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, reports that tomatoes grown organically contained higher levels of the nutrients quercetin and kaempferol aglycones than their conventionally grown counterparts.

Alyson Mitchell from the University of California-Davis, and researchers from University of Minnesota studied the levels of these important nutritional ingredients in dried tomato samples over a period of ten years. The tomatoes were grown and processed conventionally or organically.

The organic tomatoes contained on average 79 and 97 per cent more of the nutrients than conventionally grown tomatoes.

The authors propose that "over-fertilization" is behind of the loss of these chemicals in conventionally grown plants. Flavonoids are produced as a defence mechanism of the plant in response to nutrient deficiency. In the organically grown plants, no fertilization occurred which was mirrored in increasing levels of the flavonoids over time as the soil fertility decreased.

To me, it sounds like organic farming provides produce with the ingredients intended by nature. That ought to be considered a good idea at most tables.


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