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Organic Foods Not Superior to Conventionally
Produced Foods

Consumers appear willing to pay higher prices for organic foods based on their perceived health and nutrition benefits, and the global organic food market was estimated in 2007 to be worth 29 billion (2 billion in the UK alone). However, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, there is no evidence that organically produced foods are nutritionally superior to conventionally produced foodstuffs.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have now completed the most extensive systematic review of the available published literature on nutrient content of organic food ever conducted. The review focused on nutritional content and did not include a review of the content of contaminants or chemical residues in foods from different agricultural production regimens.

Over 50,000 papers were searched, and a total of 162 relevant articles were identified that were published over a fifty-year period up to 29 February 2008 and compared the nutrient content of organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs. To ensure methodological rigor the quality of each article was assessed.

Fifty-five of the identified papers were of satisfactory quality, and analysis was conducted comparing the content in organically and conventionally produced foods of the 13 most commonly reported nutrient categories.

The researchers found organically and conventionally produced foods to be comparable in their nutrient content. For 10 out of the 13 nutrient categories analyzed, there were no significant differences between production methods in nutrient content. Differences that were detected were most likely to be due to differences in fertilizer use (nitrogen, phosphorus), and ripeness at harvest (acidity), and it is unlikely that consuming these nutrients at the levels reported in organic foods would provide any health benefit.

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