A recent study shows that organically grown produce may actually not offer additional nutritional benefits over conventional varieties. The study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reports that organically grown carrots, potatoes and onions do not have higher levels of antioxidants than their traditional counterparts.

Under controlled conditions, the researchers found that these items do not have the health promoting nutrients that once was thought.

The difference between organic and conventional growing is in fertilization and soil fertility. These two factors affect the output of plants, in both taste and (once thought) nutrient content. The topic is clearly up for debate, with past studies showing otherwise.

There have been smaller studies which have reported higher levels of specific nutrients (such as strawberries). But small studies can still leave us questioning.

Pia Knuthsen from the National Food Institute at Technical University of Denmark led the team of researchers from this current study, and did note that organic food products do have other benefits, such as environmental, taste, and animal rights. However, they were also keen to note that the health benefits just may be bogus.
“The objective of our study was to compare the content of selected flavonoids and phenolic acids in organically and conventionally grown onions, potatoes, and carrots and to evaluate if the ability of the crops to synthesize selected secondary metabolites is systematically affected by growth systems across different growth years as well as geographic locations [and soil types],” the article explained.

Based on their results, no such conclusions could be made of the potential benefits. But because that isn’t the key reason for buying organic, does it even change our minds?

I buy organic for the environment, just as I grow organically in my backyard. And health benefits or not, filling my plate with fresh vegetables laden in antibiotics isn’t really my kind of dinner.

Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Volume 58, Issue 19, Pages 10323–10329, doi: 10.1021/jf101091c
“Effects of Organic and Conventional Growth Systems on the Content of Flavonoids in Onions and Phenolic Acids in Carrots and Potatoes”
Authors: M. Søltoft, J. Nielsen, K. Holst Laursen, S. Husted, U. Halekoh, P. Knuthsen


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