Clear differences between organic and non-organic food, study fin

henry_kuskaJuly 12, 2014

"Clear differences between organic and non-organic food, study finds
Research is first to find wide-ranging differences between organic and conventional fruits, vegetables and cereals"

See:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/11/organic-food-more-antioxidants-study

Here is a link that might be useful: link for above

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lazy_gardens

Has anyone compared this study with the other 2 meta-analyses that came to different conclusions? Which ones were more robust in their methods?

Actually read the study, not just the news about the study and it's way less interesting.

This study focuses primarily on antioxidant levels yet the reporting I've seen seems to neglect that you don't really need that much in the way of antioxidants. To make a claim that organic crops are better because they have higher antioxidant levels is claiming, indirectly that we need antioxidants yet fail to correlate any significant levels needed vs what I'd being produced by the plants?

The introduction starts out with many claims about how organic farming methods are safer and better for the environment. There are some citations for these claims, but not all of them are covered. Furthermore, some of their citations are dubious, ranging from books to other studies by the authors. I also see no study anywhere testing the safety, efficacy, and yield rates of organic - it's just assumed that organic is safer and better for the environment.

The conclusion that organic produce is higher in ANY nutrients, including antioxidants, is also tenuous. Are the studies being cited comparing apples to apples, so to speak? For instance, are they comparing organic beef tomatoes to conventional beef tomatoes? If so, are all other things equal, including soil type, irrigation methods, slope aspect, etc? Probably not.

=======

Here's a critical point ... given the astoundingly higher price of organic foods in most areas, which gives you more fruits and vegetables for $25 ???

Organic or conventional?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 4:31PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

It makes me wonder what would make organic higher in nutrients. Probably on the average the organic farms have higher organic matter. that is good and tends to make the micro herd more active in breaking down food ready for the plant...besides just NPK and some other major nutrients.

Some organic enterprizes may raise more of the older varieties that tend to produce less poundage and therefore more density per pound.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 7:00PM
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lazy_gardens

"It makes me wonder what would make organic higher in nutrients. "

You are assuming they are, and other studies (lots of them) have not shown that.

Unless you are growing the same varieties, in the same conditions, with the ONLY variable being the organic/versus conventional ... you can't say anything about the differences.

I haven't seen the data yet, but if you are looking at a bunch of variables, like the "nutrients", it's soooooooooo easy to find the points where you can show superiority of YOUR side. And skip showing those points where yours is inferior.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 12:17PM
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art_1(10 CA)

Look into Rodale Institute if you are interested in the benefits.

Many times studies look at something very specific such as more sugar or more of this one antioxidant compound, rather than the whole picture. For someone that knows their way around a garden or farm and has some understanding of biology it is obvious that certain methods are superior to others. It also depends on what the goals are.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 1:54PM
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art_1(10 CA)

You are correct about the price but considering that most of us aren't exactly going hungry and what many Americans eat, I think the price of organic vs. conventional produce may be a bit misguided. Then it becomes more about economics and politics.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 1:59PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I could see where there could be less pesticide residue.

Smaller organic farms likely baby their soil more. I do and likely do have healthier crops. Even on non-organic farms there is going to be a difference between well tended crops and 'mined' soils....little added and just using up previous fertility.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 2:19PM
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pnbrown

I consistently find that OG produce tests higher on the brix scale than non-OG. That to me tends to support the contention that certified organic farms produce crops with higher nutrient value pound-to-pound, or bite-for-bite, even if not dollar-for-dollar.

IMO, it's not logical to try to save a few dollars a week when the result is less nourishment.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 2:21PM
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henry_kuska

The following was stated earlier in this thread: "This study focuses primarily on antioxidant levels yet the reporting I've seen seems to neglect that you don't really need that much in the way of antioxidants. To make a claim that organic crops are better because they have higher antioxidant levels is claiming, indirectly that we need antioxidants yet fail to correlate any significant levels needed vs what I'd being produced by the plants? "

H.Kuska comment. The abstract conclusion is: " In conclusion, organic crops, on average, have higher concentrations of antioxidants, lower concentrations of Cd and a lower incidence of pesticide residues than the non-organic comparators across regions and production seasons." Please note that I, and I assume many others, would be interested in organic foods even if just the lower Cd and pesticide residue parts of the article were significant.

Now concerning the above point about not going into detail about: "To make a claim that organic crops are better because they have higher antioxidant levels is claiming, indirectly that we need antioxidants yet fail to correlate any significant levels needed vs what I'd being produced by the plants? "

A research paper normally has size restrictions. I would expect that the authors, reviewers, and Editor assume that the scientific readers can go to the scientific literature and become familiar with what is known about the role of antioxidants from plants and human health. For example:

"Polyphenols in Fruits and Vegetables and Its Effect on Human Health"

http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?paperID=46941

The full paper is available to the public free. (click on "open access") Of particular interest is that too much of some/many/ most things can be harmful: "Moreover, higher doses, flavonoids may act as mutagens, pro-oxidants that generate free radicals, and as inhibitors of key enzymes involved in hormone metabolism. Thus, in high doses, the adverse effects of flavonoids may outweigh their beneficial ones, and caution should be exercised in ingesting them at levels above that which would be obtained from a typical vegetarian diet [139]."

Here is a link that might be useful: link for above

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 5:28PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I'm not quite sure what is the point of this thread.

In this one meta analysis, they reviewed 343 previous studies done, examining and measuring nutritional content of organic vs non organic vegetables. Is that right? Yet, after 343 studies done, they still find very little difference in the nutritional value of both groups. No difference that would actually support recommending one over the other for nutritional content. After 343 studies. That to me is a very large waste of time and money to do that many studies when the first 50 probably told you all you needed to know. I also have to wonder, who was paying for these studies? Is some organization trying to gain support for their point of view with 'scientific studies showâ¦'?

At any rate, I haven't expected that organic produce has significantly higher amounts of nutrition over non organic produce. I simply understand that pesticides and fungicides actually are designed to kill bugs and fungus. Why would I want to eat foods that were sprayed with any kind of agent that can kill, even if it is just a small bug? And had them repeatedly applied? And that the soil that they are growing in has had years and years of them being applied?

The other reason I choose organic gardening, is because an ecological system clearly exists. Why ignore that rather than try to understand it and work with the system rather than against it?

None of these studies address either of those reasons why I choose organic.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 5:28PM
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henry_kuska

The following was stated: "None of these studies address either of those reasons why I choose organic."

H.Kuska comment: I do not understand the above comment. I just stated in the post above this one that: "The abstract conclusion is: " In conclusion, organic crops, on average, have higher concentrations of antioxidants, lower concentrations of Cd and a lower incidence of pesticide residues than the non-organic comparators across regions and production seasons." Please note that I, and I assume many others, would be interested in organic foods even if just the lower Cd and pesticide residue parts of the article were significant. "

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:44PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I am not fully organic, but believe in many organic principles, and I believe I have very healthy soil. Here is a link of 'food for thought'.

Here is a link that might be useful: Organic vs Other

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 10:32PM
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magnetico

There is a lot of information on the benefits of organic farming in this book by N. A. Krasil'nikov'.

Soil Microorganisms and Higher Plants<?a>

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 11:03PM
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azdoctor

The major finding of this study is that organic produce had about significantly more dry matter than conventional. This means that the organic produce was drier, the conventional juicier or more watery, as you prefer to characterize it. It's difficult to tell from the paper, but if nutrient levels, anti-oxidant levels, etc. are expressed on a fresh-weight basis they will be higher in the organic. If expressed on a dry-weight basis, the differences generally disappear.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2015 at 7:54AM
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henry_kuska

The following was stated: If expressed on a dry-weight basis, the differences generally disappear."

H.Kuska comment: Please apply your dry weight criteria to the Cd and pesticide residue sections (with quantitative numbers).

As I have stated: "Please note that I, and I assume many others, would be interested in organic foods even if just the lower Cd and pesticide residue parts of the article were significant. "

    Bookmark   March 3, 2015 at 8:07AM
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azdoctor

I specifically referred to nutrient and anti-oxidant levels. Cadmium is neither. (Nor are pesticides>)

    Bookmark   March 3, 2015 at 8:09AM
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henry_kuska

This is your "exact" quote: " It's difficult to tell from the paper, but if nutrient levels, anti-oxidant levels, etc.". The use of "etc. changes your statement from only specific to a vague general statement.

To be specific. What is your position concerning eating organic food to avoid the larger levels of Cd and pesticides reported?

My original link stated:

"The researchers found much higher levels of cadmium, a toxic metal, in conventional crops. Pesticide residues were found on conventional crops four times more often than on organic food."

AND

"Also, the higher levels of cadmium and pesticides in conventional produce were still well below regulatory limits. But the researchers say cadmium accumulates over time in the body and that some people may wish to avoid this, and that pesticide limits are set individually, not for the cocktail of chemicals used on crops."

    Bookmark   March 3, 2015 at 9:32AM
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azdoctor

Since the paper neglected to report actual values, the dietary significance of their findings is difficult to assess, i.e. what portion of a typical Cd exposure comes from these sources?

In general, the USDA organic rules are so arbitrary and silly that they mean little. Pesticides ARE NOT prohibited in organic production. Neither are inorganic, manufactured fertilizers. For example, copper sulfate, made in a factory, is allowed (according to Wikipedia "Copper toxicity, also called copperiedus, refers to the consequences of an excess of copper in the body. Copperiedus can occur from eating acid foods cooked in uncoated copper cookware, or from exposure to excess copper in drinking water or other environmental sources." On the other hand potassium chloride, made by washing mined ore, is not.

If we had 'pesticide-free' labeling, then you'd have my attention. As it is, I pay more attention to country of origin than anything. Studies show that pesticide residues are higher on imported food than domestically produced food.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2015 at 10:16AM
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henry_kuska

Concerning Cd the following reply to the original paper may be of interest :

http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007114514002748

At the end of what is reproduced it mentions that the difference is probably due to the fertilizer used.

I downloaded the full manuscript and it states the following:

"Although these data do not enable us to calculate the degree to which a halving of Cd exposure would decrease total mortality, it would not be unreasonable to estimate a 20% reduction of total mortality."

    Bookmark   March 3, 2015 at 2:57PM
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