The debate about whether organic food has more nutrients might be finally settled, at least in the case of tomatoes. The latest research from the University of Barcelona shows that organic tomatoes have higher levels of antioxidants than chemically-grown ones. The research team studied and analysed the chemical structure of the Daniela variety of tomato.
According to The Daily Mail: “They detected 34 different beneficial compounds in both the organic and conventional versions… However they found that overall the organic tomatoes contained higher level of the polyphenols. The scientists says this difference between organic and conventional tomatoes can be explained by the manure used to grown them.”
This makes sense because plants produce polyphenols to fight off diseases, and when we ingest them, we get the same disease prevention benefits. In a chemically-intensive agricultural system however, the plants’ natural ability to defend itself is diminished as that work is taken on by pesticides and fungicides. Polyphenols are a class of natural antioxidants and they halt the development of certain cancers as well as some chronic conditions due to their anti-inflammatory properties. There is a class of polyphenols called flavonols which impart flavour and taste to fruits or vegetables. That’s the reason why organically grown food is said to taste better, although this is debatable.
However the scientific findings that organic tomatoes have more polyphenols than conventionally grown ones is more proof that chemical agriculture does not impart any nutritional value to food. Although this has been proven before in 2004 in a study by UC Davis, and more recently by the University of Newscastle, the nutritional superiority of organic food still is a subject for intense research.
In spite of the results of the research, organic food still has not gained widespread acceptance. It is still more expensive than chemically grown food and the market for organic food still remains stagnant. In many countries, organic food is not even widely available. All of this needs to change before people are able to benefit from the nutritionally benefits of organic food.
Image Credit: Organic tomatoes from my garden. Akhila Vijayaraghavan ©