Many of us have puzzled over whether to pry open our wallets and pay extra for organic fruits and vegetables.
Intuitively, we believe that organic food is healthier than food produced conventionally using chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
However, frankly, there has been very little research to support this belief.
A recently released comprehensive study conducted by scientists from Washington State University concludes that organically grown strawberries are healthier, tastier and better for the soil than conventionally grown strawberries.
The study was well conceived and thorough.
The researchers compared 13 organic with 13 conventional strawberry fields in California over a two year period. To control for soil type and weather patterns, the fields were planted in pairs, one organic and one conventional field next to each other. The strawberries from all fields were picked, transported, and stored under identical conditions.
Here are more details of the study’s conclusions . . .
- The organic strawberries were higher quality. They had increased antioxidants, vitamin C, and total phenolics. Taste-testers generally rated them higher.
- Organic strawberry plants showed fewer instances of post-harvest fungal rot than conventional strawberries, despite the fact that no fungicides were used on the organic fields. (The study notes this finding may prove that organic systems help defend plants against infection through systemic-acquired resistance rather than chemical inputs.)
- Despite the conventional practice of spraying soils with synthetic fertilizers, the study found that organic fields contained significantly higher amounts of nutrients.
Let me see if I’ve got this. Higher quality and better tasting fruit, healthier plants and healthier soil. That’s win-win-win by my calculations.
I’m going to keep spending more to get organic fruits and vegetables because I believe they are better for us and for our planet. And, now, I have more than intuition to support that decision.
Here’s the journal reference for the study: John P. Reganold, Preston K. Andrews, Jennifer R. Reeve, Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, Christopher W. Schadt, J. Richard Alldredge, Carolyn F. Ross, Neal M. Davies, Jizhong Zhou. Fruit and Soil Quality of Organic and Conventional Strawberry Agroecosystems. PLoS ONE, 2010; 5 (9): e12346 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0012346