Is Organic Food More Nutritious?
1st Nov, 2022
Organic foods are tightly regulated in the UK by the Soil Association who set restrictions around what can and cannot be classed as an organic product. When it comes to fruit and vegetables, their organic nature is mostly certified by their use of only natural fertilisers and pesticides in their cultivation and also their regenerative farming methods. Whereas, with non-organic grown produce, farmers are permitted to use a much broader selection of fertilisers and pesticides. However, these are all only at levels that are deemed safe by various regulatory bodies.
So Are Organic Fruit and Vegetables Actually More Nutritious?
Focusing just on nutrient content, there is mixed evidence to show that organic fruit and vegetables are more nutritionally dense than their non-organic, conventionally grown cousins. The research is somewhat split, where some data suggests that in certain organic varieties there are significantly higher concentrations of certain nutrients, where some research finds there is not. Confusing, we know… Some studies indicate better nutritional profiles in organic foods than in conventional foods, but the differences are mostly small and may not be of practical relevance in well-nourished populations. Several systematic reviews don’t conclude that organic fruit and vegetables are superior in their nutrient content. Yet remember, this is using only the data that exists currently, so we might find in years to come with more data, a case for organic food may be found.
The Possible Health Benefits of Organic
Multiple studies looking at people regularly consuming organic food suggest they tend to be at lower risk of negative health outcomes like heart attacks, diabetes and cancer, than those eating conventional fruit and vegetables. Though this is a positive observation, we need to consider the potential factors influencing these results Generally, people who eat organic foods are likely to be of a higher socioeconomic and educational background and follow a vegan/vegetarian diet. These characteristics make them already more likely to have better health outcomes. With this insight, the data appears slightly less compelling and applicable to the general population.
Realistically, the priority at hand is to promote the intake of fruits and vegetables in our nation. In 2020 on average adults were only eating 2.7 portions a day.
If you are looking to maximise your nutrient intake, eating seasonally can be a great way to do this, as some research is suggesting that ripe fresh produce in season is more nutritious than when not. Better still, it’s a more sustainable way to eat. Where you might find the additional benefit of slightly more nutrients with organic foods, this might be counteracted by the rest of your diet and lifestyle anyway.
This article isn’t to say there is no value in consuming organic if you can afford to. Rather, as the jury is out on whether organic fruit and vegetables are actually nutritionally superior to their conventionally grown analogue, let’s first celebrate all that fruit and vegetables have to offer.
By Lulu Gibbons