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New evidence confirms organic food is more nutritious


Sound Consumer | May 2008

Here’s something that chemical companies and industrial agribusiness don’t want you to know: An analysis of nearly 100 peer-reviewed studies concludes, yes, there is sufficient quality research to confirm the nutritional superiority of plant-based organic foods.

The Organic Center, based in Boulder, Colo., says it identified 97 peer-reviewed studies in the scientific literature since 1980 that compared nutrient levels in organic and non-organic foods. It then screened the studies for scientific validity.

Scientists identified 236 scientifically valid “matched pairs” of measurements on nutrients in organic versus nonorganic produce items. Each matched pair, for example, contained an apple crop grown organically and another apple crop from a nearby non-organic farm — each with similar soils, climate, plant genetics, irrigation systems, nitrogen levels and harvest practices.

The analysis shows that the organic fruits, vegetables and grains contained higher levels of eight of 11 nutrients studied. These nutrients included significantly greater concentrations of health-promoting polyphenols and antioxidants.

The conclusion is that organically grown plant-based foods are 25 percent more nutrient dense and therefore deliver more essential nutrients per calorie or serving consumed.

Neal Davies, a professor at Washington State University (WSU) and a co-author of the center’s report, says there’s evidence also that nutrients often are present in organic foods “in a more biologically active form.”

The chief scientist at the Organic Center is Charles Benbrook (a former executive director of the Board on Agriculture of the National Academy of Sciences). Two additional WSU scientists, Jaime Yez and Preston Andrews, and University of Florida scientist Xin Zhao co-authored the report.

Visit www.organic-center.org/science.nutri.php?action=view&report_id=126 to read the full report, “New Evidence Confirms the Nutritional Superiority of Plant-based Organic Foods,” or an executive summary.

The Organic Center is a nonprofit organization founded in 2002 to generate credible, peer-reviewed scientific research on the benefits of organic food and farming, and to communicate the benefits to the public.

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