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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Study confirms organic food is healthier, tastier, better for soil

Grist: "Does growing food organically really matter?"
The study design was both careful and comprehensive in scope. The strawberries were grown on 13 conventional and 13 organic fields, with organic/conventional field pairs located adjacently in order to control for soil type and weather patterns. The data was drawn from repeated harvests over a two-year period, and the strawberries were picked, transported, and stored under identical conditions to replicate retail practices. And just as farming is a complex business, scientists contributing to the study range from soil and food scientists to genetics experts and statistics specialists, who analyzed 31 soil properties, soil DNA, and the relative taste and nutritional quality of three strawberry varieties in California.

The results are pretty convincing: organic strawberries are healthier, tastier, and better for the soil than conventional strawberries.

What I find fascinating and heartening, however, is the results regarding soil quality.

Despite the conventional practice of spraying soils with synthetic fertilizers, the study found that organic fields contained significantly higher amounts of nutrients. Organic and conventional soils contained similar levels of most extractable nutrients, but organic soil had higher levels of zinc, boron, sodium, and iron. Organic soils also performed better through a number of biological properties, such as enzyme activities, micronutrient levels, and carbon sequestration.

In other words, all that effort being expended denuding soil of microorganisms with pesticides and fumigants and then replenishing a few key nutrients (e.g. nitrogen) is a colossal waste. And it means that even as fossil fuels run down, we can still grow high quality produce. And according to a UCS study cited in the same article, we can also keep high crop yields to feed the world.


1 comment:

HyunChard said...

It's so obvious, organic food delivered to our houses are safer than the non-organic. It pays to check the label, they say. So no wonder they are in demand.