Organically-Grown Vegetables and Fruits Healthier
Organic produce is grown without synthetic agents. Such farming practices generally yield less per acre compared to farming that makes use of high-tech fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. Organic vegetables and fruits are more costly to produce, thereby costing more at the fruit and vegetable stand or at the supermarket.
One obvious advantage of organically-grown vegetables and fruits: no exposure to chemicals used in conventional farming, such as perchlorates from synthetic fertilizers, or glyphosate and dioxane from herbicides. These agents have been associated with thyroid disease and cancers.
But are organic vegetables and fruits more nutritious than conventionally-grown? A recent USDA study (Wang SY et al 2008) sheds light on this question. (Ironically, these observations came from the USDA's Genetic Improvement of Fruits and Vegetables Laboratory of the Produce Quality and Safety Laboratory.)
In this USDA study, the nutritional content of organic vs. conventionally-grown blueberries were compared.
(All values expressed as weight per 100 grams fresh weight blueberries, or a bit less than 1/4 cup):
Total phenol content (e.g, flavonoids):
Organic: 319.3 mg
Conventional: 190.3 mg
Conclusion: Organic blueberries had 68% greater phenol content.
Total anthocyanins (an important class of flavonoids):
Organic: 131.2 mg
Conventional: 82.4 mg
Conclusion: Organic blueberries had 59% greater anthocyanin content.
Antioxidant capacity (ORAC):
Organic: 46.14 mg
Conventional: 30.8 mg
Conclusion: Organic blueberries had 50% greater antioxidant capacity.
Flavonoids suspected to carry unusually potent health effects--malvidin, delphinidin, myricetin, and quercetin--were all contained in greater proportions in the organically-grown blueberries, also.
The inescapable conclusion: Organic blueberries are superior in nutritional value to those grown with conventional pesticides and herbicides. The study addressed only blueberries, but it's likely that similar differences will be shown for other vegetables and fruits.