Background and methodology
Organic farming has been practiced by man for thousands of years. The first half of the 20th Century saw much regeneration in Europe, with many claims about the properties of organic food products. The greatest historical assertion of the organic movement is the ability of organic foods to cure cancer. The medical community has criticized the validity and truthfulness of this claim. Despite the paradoxes, organic farming became one of the fastest growing segments of US and European agriculture during the 1990s. Many surveys of consumer attitudes conducted to identify the reasons for this increased trend showed health related issues to be of greater importance. This paper presents a critical and transparent overview of issues related to the nutritional value of organic produce with a main focus on fruits and vegetables.
There is little evidence that organic and conventional food differ in respect to the concentrations of the various micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and trace elements). However, there seems to be a slight trend towards higher ascorbic acid content in organically grown leafy vegetables and potatoes. There is also a trend towards lower protein concentration but higher quality in some organic vegetables and cereal crops. Finally, animal feeding experiments indicate that animal health and reproductive performance are slightly improved when they are organically fed. A similar finding has not been identified in humans.
Magkos, F., Arvanti, F. & Zampelas, A. (2003). Organic food: nutritious food or food for thought? A review of the evidence. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition 54(5):357-371.