Share The Wealth by Chris Gupta
June 29, 2003

Organic Growing Nets More Antioxidants

Organic Growing Nets More Antioxidants

"Scientists found consistently higher levels of phenols (59% vs 19%) in corn,
blackberries and strawberries grown using certified organic or sustainable
practices compared to same foods grown conventionally. Phenols, ...., are
produced by plants as natural defenses against insects, infections and UV
radiation. As potent anti-oxidants, they may help prevent the free-radical cell
damage in humans that contributes to age-related conditions like heart disease
and cancer. Researchers speculate that chemicals used in conventional
agriculture may disrupt the natural production of these substances."

Organic Growing Nets More Antioxidants
Some organically grown fruits and vegetables contain as much as 58 percent more antioxidants than conventionally grown produce, research from the University of California, Davis indicates.

The study was published in the Feb. 26 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society.

Researchers found that organically or sustainably grown corn, strawberries and marionberries (a type of blackberry) contain more polyphenolics, which are natural antioxidants produced by plants as a defense against insects and other pests. The study suggests that herbicides and pesticides decrease the need for these natural antioxidants.

The level of antioxidants in sustainably grown corn was 58.5 percent higher than in conventionally grown corn, while organically and sustainably grown marionberries had 50 percent more antioxidants. Organically and sustainably grown strawberries had 19 percent more antioxidants than their conventional cousins did.

Researchers also found that frozen strawberries, marionberries and corn have higher levels of polyphenolics than freeze-dried or air-dried versions.

The organic foods in the study were grown without herbicides, pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, while the sustainable produce was grown with fertilizer but without herbicides or pesticides.

Researchers concluded that antioxidant levels were highest in sustainably grown produce. "This may reflect the balance between adequate nutrition in the form of fertilizers and external pest pressures because of the lack of pesticides and herbicides," said Alyson Mitchell, assistant professor of food science at UC Davis and leader of the research team.

Mitchell said researchers plan to widen their study to other vegetables, but believe the results will be the same in most produce.

Bob Scowcroft, executive director of the Organic Farming Research Foundation, said the study is a good beginning and establishes research protocols for further studies.

"It's opened the field to numerous questions—is it the stress to the plants that did this? Will any fertilizer work? Now additional researchers need to see if they can replicate these findings," he said.



posted by Chris Gupta on Sunday June 29 2003
updated on Saturday September 24 2005

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Readers' Comments

What's the difference between sustainable and organically grown produce?

If sustainable produce is superior, where does one find that? I see organic everywhere but not sustainable.

Posted by: Chuck Labotka on June 22, 2004 05:52 AM


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