FOOD CHEMICALS: Organic Food has Less Pesticides, More Nutrients says new largest meta-analysis study ever conducted
The largest study of its kind has found that organic foods and crops have a suite of advantages over their conventional counterparts, including more antioxidants and fewer, less frequent pesticide residues.
The study looked at an unprecedented 343 peer-reviewed publications comparing the nutritional quality and safety of organic and conventional plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, and grains. The study team applied sophisticated meta-analysis techniques to quantify differences between organic and non-organic foods…
The British Journal of Nutrition study was led by scientists at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, with Benbrook helping design the study, write the paper, and review the scientific literature, particularly on studies in North and South America. In general, the team found that organic crops have several nutritional benefits that stem from the way the crops are produced. A plant on a conventionally managed field will typically have access to high levels of synthetic nitrogen, and will marshal the extra resources into producing sugars and starches. As a result, the harvested portion of the plant will often contain lower concentrations of other nutrients, including health-promoting antioxidants.
Without the synthetic chemical pesticides applied on conventional crops, organic plants also tend to produce more phenols and polyphenols to defend against pest attacks and related injuries. In people, phenols and polyphenols can help prevent diseases triggered or promoted by oxidative-damage like coronary heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.
Overall, organic crops had 18 to 69 percent higher concentrations of antioxidant compounds. The team concludes that consumers who switch to organic fruit, vegetables, and cereals would get 20 to 40 percent more antioxidants. That’s the equivalent of about two extra portions of fruit and vegetables a day, with no increase in caloric intake…
The researchers also found pesticide residues were three to four times more likely in conventional foods than organic ones, as organic farmers are not allowed to apply toxic, synthetic pesticides. While crops harvested from organically managed fields sometimes contain pesticide residues, the levels are usually 10-fold to 100-fold lower in organic food, compared to the corresponding, conventionally grown food.
Source: Washington State University materials. (2014, July 11). Nutritional, food safety benefits of organic farming documented by major study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140711153329.htm, PubMed abstract
Journal source: Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. Baranski, M., et al., British Journal of Nutrition, Jun, 2014, 1-18.
Commentaries: more antioxidants, fewer toxic metals, and less pesticide residue and "healthy"