You may have heard that 'going organic' is a healthy choice
for the farmers, the environment, and your own health. But
do you really understand why it's such a positive choice?
This article series explores the benefits of choosing organic.
Reason: Organic food offers superior health benefits
Some of my previous articles have highlighted health benefits
that can be obtained from choosing organic. These range from
helping to protect the body from cancer1 to explaining the profound
benefits of nurturing healthy soil2 to sharing some of the
potentially toxic processes3 and chemicals4 that conventional
food can be subjected to.
In some ways I was reluctant to straight out claim that organic
food is more nutritious because this is not always true.
There are organic food products on the market that have been
highly processed into something that is quite far removed from
the crop they started from. Throughout this process valuable
nutrients are lost and the end result becomes less nutritious
for our bodies.
It is also worth mentioning that nutrient levels in the soil
can vary a lot within both conventional and organic crops depending
on how the farmer or grower approaches soil health.
Additionally, it is important to compare nutrient levels between
the same types of crops because nutrient levels vary between
types of plants and specific varieties in both conventional and
As I mentioned in an earlier article5 soil health is of the utmost
importance in organic farming. This is a crucial factor in
successful organic growing because quick fix solutions such as
synthetic chemical fertilizers are not allowed to be used. Nurturing
the soil creates a healthy soil microbiome, which grows
healthy plants, which in turn help people to be healthy.
Plants need to use their own inbuilt protection mechanisms
to ward off pests because these same protection mechanisms
are what provide us with antioxidants for our bodies. If plants
are routinely being sprayed with synthetic pesticides the plant
loses the requirement to use these amazing natural protection
mechanisms. Along with that, the antioxidants that have been linked to optimal health in humans are severely depleted.
There are always going to be studies that show no difference
in antioxidant levels between conventional and organic
crops. Some studies are repeated over again until beneficial
results are found to support whatever corporate giant is funding
the study. However there certainly is evidence out there that
organically grown crops have higher nutritional content.
A large study carried out meta-analyses based on 343 peerreviewed
publications that indicate statistically significant and
meaningful differences in composition between organic and
non-organic crops/crop-based foods. The concentrations of a
range of antioxidants such as polyphenolics were found to be
substantially higher in organic crops/crop-based foods.6
The 'look' of some organic produce can sometimes put
people off eating it because it doesn't seem as appealing. In my
experience, I have often found that our customers are pleasantly
surprised by how wonderful their 'ugly' looking fruit tastes, and
there is also evidence to suggest that it could contain superior
Studies have found that apples with 'scabs' on the skin or
leaves contained higher antioxidants (phenolic compounds)
than scab-free apples and apple leaves.7,8 Similarly, higher concentrations
of resveratrol (an antioxidant) have been found in
grape leaves following fungal infection or exposure to ultraviolet
These results all connect back to the plant needing to work
hard to fight for its survival. The inbuilt protective mechanisms
kick in and these same protection mechanisms are what provide
us with antioxidants. To remind you once more, a plant
that has been sprayed with synthetic pesticides does not require
these mechanisms for protection from pests, and therefore is
unlikely to have antioxidants in the same concentrations that a
plant which has not been subjected to synthetic pesticides will
With this in mind, give that 'ugly' looking fruit a bit of a
chance—you might be pleasantly surprised by the taste and it's
highly likely that it's better for you too.