The UK’s leading authority on organic growing, Garden Organic, is disputing claims made yesterday, Tuesday 26 February, on BBC 2’s Horizon programme, ‘Professor Regan’s Supermarket Secrets’ that there is little scientific evidence of organically produced food having any nutritional differences or benefits compared to non-organic food.
The Midlands based charity, celebrating 50 years at the forefront of organic horticulture this year, also criticises the programme for disregarding the massive environmental benefits that organic methods bring.
Garden Organic’s director of research, Dr Margi Lennartsson, said: “Despite the programme’s assertions, there is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that organic foods contain more desirable components, such as vitamins and minerals, and fewer harmful ones, such as pesticides and additives.
“New evidence that emerged last year, comparing organic and industrially produced crops, indicates higher vitamin C levels and polyphenols in kiwis, higher levels of phenols, flavonoids and vitamin C in apple puree, higher content of vitamin C, B-carotene and flavonoids in tomatoes, and higher polyphenol content in peaches.
“Milk from breastfeeding mothers whose diets contain a large proportion of organic food has also been found to contain a significantly higher level of conjugated linoleic acids (CLA), an antioxidant, than those eating conventional food. A recent study also showed that UK whole organic milk has on average 68% higher levels of the essential fatty acid omega-3 and a healthier omega-3:6 profile than non-organic milk.
“Early results of the extensive £12 million four year EU Quality Low-Input Food study published in October 2007 have also indicated that organic fruit and vegetables have health benefits and in fact contain 40% more antioxidants compared to non-organic foodstuffs. The results also showed higher levels of other beneficial minerals such as iron and zinc.
“It is also worth pointing out that there is no body of evidence showing the health advantages of consuming industrially produced foods over organic.
“Most concerning though is that the programme failed to pick up on the environmental benefits of organic horticulture and agriculture that in turn will have an impact on us all. The sustainable approach that comes with organic growing not only protects us from a cocktail of chemicals but also ensures our land and soil remain healthy for generations to come and the natural balance of wildlife and biodiversity is preserved.
“In a world increasingly concerned with climate change, managing our carbon footprints and reducing our impact on the environment must mean organic is the way forward.”
For more information on Garden Organic and the charity’s work please visit www.gardenorganic.org.uk or call +44 2476 303517.