Organic fruits and vegetables are coming on strong lately. They are available at larger numbers of markets around the country and the price, in many cases, is starting to be more competitive with conventional produce. This is why over the last year or so, when we see stories about how organically grown offers few advantages to conventional and cost higher to boot, it has sometimes been tough to justify spending the extra effort to find organic produce as well as spend the extra cash to purchase them.
Now a new piece of research is not only challenging the “organic is no different” notion when it comes to important nutrients that promote better health, it is also showing that organic tomatoes taste better too.
Organic Farming Impacts Quality of Tomatoes
This latest tomato study is showing impressively higher percentages of nutrient levels for the organically grown versions versus their conventional counterparts. The French and Brazilian researchers, affiliated with France’s University of Avignon and Brazil’s Federal University Ceara compared organic tomatoes grown in the Northeast region of Brazil with conventionally-grown tomatoes grown in the same region under similar conditions.
The scientists looked at many different factors including antioxidants, phenols, anthocyanin, flavoniods, vitamin C, enzyme activity, chlorophyll and peroxidation, pH and finally brix level, which is sweetness.
The results show organic tomatoes at their ripe stage, contained substantially higher levels of many nutrients important to promoting health and, as an added bonus, they were sweeter and better tasting than conventional samples. Here are some of the numbers:
- 139% higher levels of total phenolic.
(Polyphenols are plant compounds that have been shown to help prevent heart disease, cancer and have anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties)
- 140% higher phenylalanine ammonia lyase levels, related to enzyme activity.
(Higher enzyme activity is most likely related to higher plant stress, which is also likely to have increased the phenol levels. Both are related to the plant having to work harder to grow to maturity, unaided by chemical sprays and insecticides)
- 90% higher antioxidant potency as measured by superoxide dismutase levels.
(This looks at free radical scavenging potential)
- 72% higher yellow flavonoid content
- 57% higher levels of vitamin C
- 28% higher levels of acidity – % of citric acid
- 57% higher brix levels, the sweetness of the fruit
The researchers, in their own words:
Our work clearly demonstrates that tomato fruits from organic farming have indeed a smaller size and mass than fruits from conventional growing systems, but also a substantially better quality in terms of concentrations in soluble solids and phytochemicals such as vitamin C and total phenolic compounds.
Until recently, the focus has been mainly on yield rather than on gustative and micronutritional quality of fresh plant products. This might be all right for staple food, but, as far as fruits and vegetables are concerned, it may be argued that gustative and micronutritional quality matter more than energy supply. Our observations suggest that, at least for fruit and vegetable production, growers should not systematically try to reduce stress to maximize yield and fruit size, but should accept a certain level of stress as that imposed by organic farming with the objective of improving certain aspects of product quality.
Better Taste. Better Nutrition. It’s Organic!
What it comes down to is this — organic tomatoes can offer you a better value if higher nutrient levels and better taste are attributes you consider important. Additional research is being conducted to take measurements from a wide variety of organic versus conventional produce and we will publish those study results as they become available. Meanwhile, how about a V-12?
Here’s a very tasty tomato cocktail recipe, similar to one you are no doubt familiar with, however this one is totally fresh and alive with enzymes and nutrients like no other. This comes from Jay and Linda’s book, Live Foods Live Bodies, Recipes For Life, new and updated for 2013. Look for it on page 181.
V-12 Super Juice
- handful spinach
- handful parsley
- handful cilantro
- 1 large vine-ripened tomato, cut into wedges
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- 1 clove garlic
- 8-10 medium-sized carrots, trimmed
Juice the spinach, parsley, and cilantro, bunching up the greens as you feed them through the machine. Then juice the tomato, red pepper and garlic. Finish by juicing the carrots.