Is organic produce better for you?

The debate rages on: A new study announced in a November 3 press release reveals that organically grown carrots, onions, and potatoes offer no more cancer-fighting antioxidants than conventionally grown ones.

A team of Danish scientists measured the amounts of antioxidant polyphenols, compounds known to protect against cancers and heart disease, and discovered no differences between organic produce and produce grown using pesticides and fertilizers.

However, the team acknowledges that there are still plenty of good reasons to pay a premium for organics - environmental protection, better taste, and no pesticide residue. The study was recently published in the American Chemical Society's bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The Danish study is another in a conflicting body of research regarding health benefits and organic produce. In 2009, the French Agency for Food Safety (AFSSA) concluded that there are significant nutritional benefits linked to organic fruits and vegetables, which countered a UK study earlier that year.

The French study, which evaluated the nutritional and sanitary quality of organic foods, found that organic plant products contain more dry matter, and so are more nutrient-dense and contain more minerals such as iron and magnesium than conventional foods. The study also suggested that organic produce contains more polyphenols than its non-organic counterpart. The UK study found no increased nutritional value in organic fruits and vegetables.

As the controversy contines, consumers are left with tough decisions about whether or not to pay more for organic produce. Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association in the US, said that organics are grown under strict standards of purity in good, clean soil, which leads to healthier plants. "This comes from the fact that the soil has nutrient value," she said in an interview with CNN. "Healthy soil, healthy plants."

"Organic foods have never been shown to be healthier, more nutritious or more safe than conventional foods," said Alex Avery, director of research at the Hudson Institute Center for Global Food Issues in the US, "despite dozens of scientific studies. There is no weight that organic is better or healthier for you."

To read the latest study: http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/jf101091c

 

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