An European project has found that some organic foods, such as fruits, vegetables and milk, could be more nutritious than other non-organic food and which could contain high concentrations of antioxidants that are believed could reduce the risk of heart disease or cancer.
First results of the project Quality Low Input Food (QLIF) showed that the organic fruit and vegetables contained up to 40% more antioxidants than other non-organic crops. And the contrasts are even greater that were found with regard to milk, with organic varieties containing up to 60% more antioxidants and fatty acids beneficial to health.
Project coordinator, Professor Carlo Leifert, University of Newcastle (United Kingdom), has announced to the press the findings of the largest research project ever conducted on the benefits of crop and organic food. He noted that the results suggested that eating organic food was equivalent to eating an extra portion of fruit and vegetables a day.
"Today there is sufficient evidence that the level of elements was better in healthy organic products. We therefore urge the FSA [Food Safety Agency of the United Kingdom] to recognize and publicly supports the nutritional benefits of organic food produced through organic agriculture systems, if properly managed", said Professor Leifert.
As part of this project, which lasts four years, researchers at the University of Newcastle raised cattle and grew fruit and vegetables, including cabbage, lettuce, carrot, potato and wheat in organic and inorganic farmland throughout Europe. After comparing factors such as taste and nutritional quality.
The project's findings contradict the advice of the Food Safety Agency of the United Kingdom (FSA), which states: "Consumers may also choose to buy organic food because they believe they are safer and more nutritious than other foods. However, the stock of existing scientific evidence does not support this view."
The project began in March 2004 and received a grant from eighteen million euros under the topic "Quality and safety of food" in the Sixth Framework Program (FP6). The project consortium is composed of about 31 research centers, universities and companies from Europe and the rest of the world. Their common goal is to increase the value both for consumers and producers using a 'from the producer.
Professor Leifert said he and his team now want to explore the underlying mechanisms by which the methods used in organic agriculture, as opposed to those used on crops to inorganic lead as high concentrations of nutrients beneficial to health.
A spokesman for the Soil Association told the press that the project's findings showed that the FSA should change its position and that this could be the start of a major change on what consumers buy.
According to market research, consumers want to buy tasty, safe, affordable and nutritious food which does not harm the environment. The low-input agriculture, designed to avoid the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, may respond to consumer demand.
It is expected that the final results of the project are published in a refereed journals over the next twelve months.