One thing we have learnt this week – organic food quality

Isweeds growing in rye field in Wales organic food quality better than non-organic food quality, other than the lack of pesticides?  This question has been raised recently as part of a debate that has raged for years about the health benefits of organic food.  Past studies have suggested little statistical difference, at least in terms of nutrients such as antioxidants, especially for meat1. A recent study does however has claimed to have found statistically significant differences in the levels of antioxidants in plants2. There is some scientific logic to this since the antioxidants tend to protect plants against insect attack. Organic plants had a lower nitrogen content (not surprising since they are grown without fertilizers), but a higher phosphorous content and lower concentrations of the heavy metal cadmium1/2. It should be added that climate change itself maybe affecting the nutrient content of plants. Studies have shown that in some grains, nitrogen iron and zinc content is reduced with higher CO2 levels. Is organic food quality better? It would be nice to think so. We think there are good reasons to eat organic food, but this is not one of them and the science maybe overstated.

1)  http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/90/3/680.full.pdf+html

2) http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/11/organic-food-more-antioxidants-study

3) “Advancing Global Food Security In The Face Of A Changing Climate” the Chicago Council. 2014.

Neil

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