Organic Fruit Healthier Than Standard Produce

A ten-year study found that organic tomatoes contain twice as many antioxidants as conventionally grown tomatoes. The study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry claims that when compared to standard produce, organic strains contain higher levels of two high blood pressure-fighting flavonoids.

These findings also confirm recent European research, which showed that organic tomatoes, peaches and processed apples all have higher nutritional quality than non-organic

They found that on average they were 79% and 97% higher respectively in the organic tomatoes than in the conventionally grown fruit.

New Scientist magazine reported that the different levels of flavonoids in tomatoes are probably due to the absence of fertilisers in organic farming.

Flavonoids are produced as a defence mechanism that can be triggered by nutrient deficiency, such as a lack of nitrogen in the soil.

The inorganic nitrogen in conventional fertiliser is easily available to plants and so, the researchers suggests, the lower levels of flavonoids are probably caused by over-fertilisation.

Who would’ve guessed: fewer chemicals lead to better soil and healthier produce.

Organic food ‘better’ for heart [BBC]
(Photo: Vertigogen)

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  1. > fewer chemicals lead to better soil

    It should be noted that these “chemicals” include “manure”, which is used as a matter of course by organic farmers.

    If a farmer uses enough manure to get their tomatoes to grow fast, as people normally do when they grow “organic” tomatoes in their back garden, this study concludes that those tomatoes will be as low in the two flavonoids measured as commercial non-”organic” tomatoes.

    The study hasn’t been published on paper yet, but you can read the abstract here.

  2. eli_b says:

    it took them ten years to figure out that organic tomatoes are healthier? meanwhile, in the no shit department…

  3. asherchang says:

    @eli_b: just because something’s organic doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better for you.

  4. asherchang says:

    don’t just give in to the chemicals=bad, no chemicals=good mentality.

  5. SOhp101 says:

    Better yet why not just grow tomatoes yourself? If you live in a temperate climate then it should provide tomatoes year long round, and if you don’t, chances are tomatoes are way to expensive for you when they’re out of season so it’s not like you’d be eating them anyway.

  6. spanky says:

    @asherchang:

    I agree completely that the hoogie-boogie attitudes some people have about long ingredient names are silly and naive. However, my SiL is a chemist, and her general policy is to stick to organics and whole foods by default. She makes exceptions only after she’s read the research and is confident that it’s thorough and valid.

    As for me, I’m not a chemist, so I tend to lean toward unmodified, local foods as much as I can within reason. I’m not terribly strict about it or anything, and honestly, I’m usually more interested in taste than nutrition or other health issues; but those seem to go hand in hand most of the time, anyway.

    I am very conscious that much of that is based on ignorance of varying degrees, though. For me, I don’t really have the capacity (or interest) to read and understand all the studies and reach my own conclusions. And even for someone who can and does do the research, there often isn’t enough information available on the long-term health and environmental factors that would have to be taken into account.

  7. @SOhp101: “Better yet why not just grow tomatoes yourself? If you live in a temperate climate then it should provide tomatoes year long round”

    I think you mean tropical. :) Here in the temperate zones we can only grow tomatoes when it’s hot out, resulting in fruit between two and eight months a year, depending on how much “summer” you get.

    (Unless, of course, you have a greenhouse setup.)

  8. Hawkins says:

    This is quite simple, actually: for decades, industrial agriculture has been breeding varieties of fruits and vegetables that SHIP WELL, at the expense of qualities like nutritive value and NOT TASTING LIKE TIRE.

    Tomatoes are an extreme example. Commercial supermarket tomatoes, available year-round, can be shipped thousands of miles from where they’re grown without looking beat-up. Too bad they taste like cardboard.

    Locally-grown garden varieties taste enormously better, and, what the hell, turn out to be more nutritious.

    Organic has nothing to do with it. It’s the variety of tomato.

    LOCAL is the new ORGANIC.

  9. Wasabe says:

    I hate manure.

  10. dbeahn says:

    In other news: Duh.

    The problem, of course, is we can’t grow enough food to feed everyone on the planet using only organic methods. We’d need about 1 in 7 people currently living to volunteer to stop eating.

    Apparently it’s *hard* to get volunteers for this movement…

  11. kimsama says:

    @dbeahn: Couldn’t we just get the 30% of people who are obese to start eating a normal amount instead? Maybe that would make up for the shortfall.

  12. Sam Glover says:

    I find it amusing that “organic” does not have the same meaning as “conventionally grown.”

  13. ancientsociety says:

    @dbeahn: So you’re whole argument against “organic” is “we can’t feed all the people on earth growing organic”?

    Hello, McFly, we aren’t feeding everyone on the planet RIGHT NOW with chemicals and genetic engineering. If in the 100+ and 15+ years that producers have been using chemicals and genetic engineering respectively, and it still has not solved food shortages and famines, what makes them the paragons of food production?

    Also, I hope you’re a vegetarian, considering that animal production uses 10x the resources it would take to grow the equivalent in produce.

  14. ancientsociety says:

    @dbeahn: Not to mention that intensive monocropping and the use of herbicides over the years depletes soil quality and speeds erosion, leading conventional farmland to become less and less abudant over the years.

  15. forever_knight says:

    This is all well and good, except that when I go to the farmer’s market to buy “locally grown”, “healthy”, and “organic” fruits and veggies I see stickers on the produce of major commercial farmers such as Dole. What gives??

  16. synergy says:

    Re: not feeding the planet.

    The problem isn’t the method for growing tomatoes, it’s always/often been the distribution that’s the bottleneck problem. Usually, in this country at least, there’s often an excess of food grown.

  17. rhombopteryx says:

    So are these organic fruits or “Organic” (butnotreally,the govt.definitionjustgotboughtby lobbyists)tm-style organic?

    (see from earlier consumerist – [consumerist.com] )

  18. erica.blog says:

    @forever_knight: Two possibilities: (1) the farmer is somehow associated with Dole, (2) the farmer bought Dole and brought it to the farmers market to sell. Ask the farmer and find out which it is, because both are a little odd for local organic farmers to be doing :P