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Organic matters

View across Sheepdrove Organic FarmHere we discuss all sorts of sustainable and ethical food issues. You'll also find background information about what organic really means, and why it's so important.

Organic crops higher in beneficial antioxidants, lower in pesticides

 

A new scientific paper published in the British Journal of Nutrition shows that there are significant nutritional quality differences between organic and conventional crops (primarily vegetables, fruit and cereals).

 

The most striking differences are: higher concentrations of antioxidants and lower levels of potentially harmful cadmium, nitrate and nitrite in organic as opposed to conventional crops.

 

It almost goes without saying that the levels and frequency of pesticides residues are significantly and massively higher in conventional produce.

 

Antioxidants and health

 

On average organic produce had between 18% and 69% more antioxidant compounds.  Smaller, but still statistically significant, composition differences were also detected for a number of carotenoids and vitamins.

 

There is scientific evidence of the health benefits of increased consumption of these compounds; most notably protection against chronic diseases, including cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases and some cancers.

It is estimated that a switch to eating organic fruit, vegetable and cereals (and food made from them) would lead to a 20–40% (and for some compounds up to a 60%) increase in crop-based antioxidant(poly)phenolic consumption without any increase in calories.

Conventional farming decreases nutrient levels in food

 

The researchers noted that, in particular, there is increasing evidence that higher levels of manufactured chemical fertilisers, most notably the nitrogen and phosphate-based fertilisers that are prohibited by organic farming standards, leads to substantially lower concentrations of antioxidants in conventional crops.

 

Groundbreaking and comprehensive study

 

The study is the most up-to-date analysis of the nutrient content in organic compared to conventionally produced foods, synthesizing the results of many more studies than previous analyses. The findings are the result of a groundbreaking new systematic literature review and meta-analysis by an international team of scientists led by experts at Newcastle University. 

 

You can download a leaflet about the paper here. The full paper can be accessed here and a summary briefing here

 

Organic is the obvious choice

 

According to Peter Kindersley, owner of Sheepdrove Farm:  “Given the last 50 years of chemical intensive industrial farming which has contaminated our soils and water, hugely diminished our countryside’s biodiversity including birds, bees and butterflies, it should come as no surprise that the quality of our food and ultimately our health have been similarly compromised.”

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