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Organic Food Found to be Better

Prof Carlo Leifert at Newcastle University has led an international team that has found clear and wide-ranging differences between organic and conventional fruits, vegetables and cereals – in the most comprehensive scientific analysis to date.

In particular they found that organic food has more of the antioxidant compounds linked to better health than regular food, and lower levels of toxic metals and pesticides.

Could switching to organic fruit and veg provide benefits?

Could switching to organic fruit and veg provide benefits?

They concluded that switching to organic fruit and vegetables could give the same benefits as adding one or two portions to the recommended five a day.

The team stated that there are “statistically significant, meaningful differences’’ between organic and conventional foods with the amount of antioxidants being between 19% and 69% higher in organic food. It is the first study to demonstrate clear and wide-ranging differences between organic and conventional fruits, vegetables and cereals.

This study further inflames the debate about organic and non-organic foods. Professor Tom Sanders, a professor of nutrition at King’s College London, said the research did show some differences. “But the question is are they within natural variation? And are they nutritionally relevant? I am not convinced.”

Prof Sanders is a critic of Prof Leifert’s work stating that, “he is oversexing [this report] a bit.”

Other critics have said that the work is based on studies that are considered to be poor studies. However the study analysed 343 peer-reviewed studies from around the world, more than ever before. This study itself was peer-reviewed which means that other independent and reputable scientists have checked it and confirmed that it is a good quality study.

This is a political hot potato. The food industry is fighting back very hard to disprove it and as a result we may never be sure of the outcome.

One thing is certain; eating more fruit and vegetables, organic or not, is a big advantage. It leads to better health and a significantly reduced disease profile.

If the option is whether to eat organic fruit and vegetables or greater quantities of conventional fruit and vegetables then go for the higher volume.

Also organic is considered by most people to be more important when purchasing dairy products. It is thought that the antibiotics used in cattle is passed into the milk and milk products.

One thing is certain; eating more fruit and veg, organic or not, is a big advantage

One thing is certain; eating more fruit and veg, organic or not, is a big advantage

“The crucially important thing about this research is that it shatters the myth that how we farm does not affect the quality of the food we eat,” said Helen Browning, chief executive of The Soil Association which campaigns for organic farming.

The researchers found much higher levels of cadmium, a toxic metal, in conventional crops. Pesticide residues found on conventional crops were four times greater than on organic food. The research was funded by the EU and an organic farming charity.

The Soil Association undertook a poll of consumers who buy organic produce and found the reasons for purchasing organic over conventional were as follows:

  • Healthy eating 55%
  • Avoiding chemical residues 53%
  • Care for the environment 44%
  • Taste 35%
  • Animal welfare 31%

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