For decades now, the debate over the benefits of organically grown foods vs. conventionally grown foods has gone on. In the early days of the natural foods industry, the primary discussion centered on removing the chemicals (and more recently, the GMO’s) to prevent them from affecting the health of the environment and farm workers, and to avoid the residues left on and in the foods grown. At Good Earth, we have always maintained the belief that organically grown foods are safer for human health, better for the environment, and more nutritious for human consumption. As time passed, the hazardous effects of the chemicals used in conventional farming on the people exposed to them, as well as the surrounding environment, have been well documented. It is the belief that organically grown foods are more densely nutritious that seems to draw the most opposition from conventional and corporate farming.
However, in recent years, there have been hundreds of studies showing the increased nutrient density in organically farmed foods, across a wide range of nutritional components. In 2008, a study co-authored by Washington State University research professor Dr. Charles Benbrook, and including European and US researchers, reviewed 343 comparative studies between organic and conventional crops. From these, 97 studies were determined to be applicable, 94 of which were deemed valid comparisons of 11 primary nutrients. Within those 94 studies, were 236 matched pairs compared.
The resulting data showed the organically grown sample to be superior in nutrient density in 61% of the pairs studied. In over 25% of those matched pairs, the organically grown samples showed a 31% higher nutrient density than their conventional counterpart. So clear were these results, it led Dr. Benbrook to conclude, “This shows clearly that organically grown fruits, vegetables and grains deliver tangible nutrition and food safety benefits”.
The benefits of organic farming are supported by nutritional studies on conventional produce, as well. A UC Davis study published in 2004, reveals an alarming decline in nutrient density occurring between 1950 and 1999. It showed a 20% decline in vitamin C in 43 different garden crops, as well as declines from 5% to 35% in protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin A, and riboflavin. In the wake of these results, there have been multiple studies showing the growing difference in nutrient density between organically grown and conventionally grown foods, particularly in the area of antioxidant capacity. We see results showing increased antioxidants in organic citrus fruits (Tarozzi, 2006) and organic red wines (Di Renzo, 2007). In fact, in a long-term study at UC Davis (Mitchell, 2007), organic tomatoes showed 79% higher levels of quercetin, and 97% higher levels of kaempferol than in conventionally grown tomatoes. At Good Earth, we have always maintained that organic foods are superior to conventional in every aspect, and we now have the science to validate the claim.
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