Organically produced apples have a 15 per cent higher antioxidant
capacity than conventionally produced apples, says a new study
Findings published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food
Chemistry add to the on-going debate over whether organically
grown produce is more nutritious than conventionally grown
produce. A report published in March 2008 by the Organic Center
at Americas Organic Trade Association argued that organic
produce is 25 per cent more nutritious than conventional foodstuffs.
However, these claims were countered by Joseph Rosen, emeritus
professor at Rutgers University and scientific advisor to
the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) who said
the data was selective, and that, when recalculated, the data
used in the original report showed that conventional products
are actually 2 per cent more nutritious than organic varieties.
In the present study the organically produced apples
displayed a higher phytochemical concentration and a higher
antioxidant capacity than conventionally produced apples,
wrote the researchers, led by Bernhard Watzl from the Federal
Research Institute of Nutrition and Food in Karlsruhe.
However, it remains unclear whether these minor differences
caused by the production method are of nutritional relevance.
Watzl and his co-workers compared the polyphenol content
and antioxidant capacity of Golden Delicious apples grown
under organic and conventional conditions over a three year
According to their findings, in 2005 and 2006 the antioxidant
capacity was 15 per cent higher in the organic fruit than
the conventionally produced fruits. Organic apples grown in
2005 also had a higher polyphenol concentration, said the
On the other hand, no differences between the organic and
conventional fruit were observed when the researchers compared
fruit from 2004 and 2006.
The organically grown apples showed a tendency of higher
phytochemical concentrations compared to the conventionally
produced apples (10 per cent), resulting in a 12 per cent
higher antioxidant capacity in the course of three years,
wrote the researchers.
No End In Sight?
A recent review, published in the journal Nutrition Bulletin
(June 2007, Vol. 32, pp. 104-110) and authored by Claire Williamson
from the British Nutrition Foundation, stated that the overall
body of science does not support the view that organic food
is more nutritious than conventionally grown food.
"Organic farming represents a sustainable method of
agriculture that avoids the use of artificial fertilisers
and pesticides and makes use of crop rotation and good animal
husbandry to control pests and diseases," wrote Williamson.
"From a nutritional perspective, there is currently not
enough evidence to recommend organic foods over conventionally