Background and methodology
The author of this study reviewed the conventional and organic agricultural production systems and its impact on food products.
Organic crops contain fewer nitrates and nitrites, as well as fewer residues of pesticides than conventional ones. They contain as a rule more dry matter, more vitamin C and B-group vitamins, more phenolic compounds, more exogenous indispensable amino acids and more total sugars; however, the level of β carotene is often higher in conventional plant products. Organic crops contain statistically more iron, magnesium and phosphorus, and they have usually better sensory quality. Vegetables, potatoes and fruits from organic production show better storage quality during the winter. Farm animals from organic herds show less metabolic diseases such as ketosis, lipidosis, arthritis, mastitis and milk fever. Small experimental mammals (rats, rabbits) fed organically grown feed show better health and fertility parameters.
However, there are also some negative findings from the studies reviewed. Plants cultivated in an organic system have, as a rule, 20 percent lower yields than conventionally produced crops. Milk and meat yield also is lower in organic animal production, partly because parasitic afflictions are more frequent. Several important problems need to be investigated and settled in coming years: environmental contamination of organic crops by heavy metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, and aromatic hydrocarbons; bacterial and fungal contamination by Salmonella, Campylobacter and mycotoxins. Last but not least, the impact of the organic food consumption on human health and well being still remains unknown and needs further study.
Rembialkowska, E. (2007). Quality of plant products from organic agriculture. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 87(15), 2757–276. Available on-line at: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/116322272/PDFSTART.