Well, researchers on a four-year European Community-funded study think so.
Preliminary results of the $26 million study, conducted at Newcastle University in the UK, found that organic fruit and vegetables contained up to 40 percent more antioxidants. These compounds are thought to play a role in warding off cancer and heart disease. Organic milk contained up to 60 to 80 percent more antioxidants than conventionally produced milk in the summer, and 50 to 60 percent higher levels in the winter. Organic milk also was found to contain higher levels of vitamin E.
The primary researcher, professor Carlo Leifert, said the figures were so dramatic that they would the equivalent of eating an extra portion of fruit and vegetables every day.
The study is in line with others at the University of California Davis, which found higher levels of antioxidents in organic tomatoes. Harold McGee explains that organic crops rely on these substances to ward off pests and diseases in the absence of chemical treatments.
In the Newcastle study, the crops and livestock are raised at a research farm. Details on the work, including several videos, can be found at the researchers' web site.
- Samuel Fromartz