More nutrients in organically grown foods
Most organic gardeners will tell you that the fruits and vegetables they harvest from their gardens taste better than their supermarket counterparts. Are the foods healthier, too? A multi-million-dollar, four-year study of the benefits of organic food, funded by the European Union (EU), suggests that some organically grown foods are more nutritious than their nonorganic counterparts. The study — the largest of its kind — also found that in some cases organically grown foods had higher levels of antioxidants, which are believed to be beneficial in fighting cancer and heart disease.
Why is organically grown food more nutritious? Scientists aren't sure, but here are a couple of tantalizing ideas:
- Nonorganic fertilizers may force rapid plant growth: Research suggests that the soluble nitrogen fertilizer applied in nonorganic gardens forces rapid but weak plant growth, and that these plants contain fewer of the antioxidants needed to protect their own health — the same anti-oxidants that protect our health.
- Higher nutrient levels in organically grown foods may be linked to healthier soil: Several studies comparing the nutrient levels in different fruits and vegetables show an apparent decline in food nutrient content over the past 70 years. Studies suggest that this decline may be the result of soils that have been depleted by an industrial agriculture system that relies on synthetic fertilizers rather than on the soil-building techniques favored by organic growers.
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