Study Finds Commercial Organic Farms Have Better Fruit and Soil, Lower Environmental Impact

The redOrbit web site has recently reported that side-by-side comparisons of organic and non-organic strawberry farms and their fruit found the organic farms produced more flavourful and nutritious berries whilst leaving the soil healthier and more genetically diverse.

John Reganold, Washington State University Regents professor of soil science and lead author of the said, “Our findings have global implications and advance what we know about the sustainability benefits of organic farming systems.  We also show you can have high quality, healthy produce without resorting to an arsenal of pesticides.”

“There is no paper in the literature that comprehensively and quantitatively compares so many indices of both food and soil quality at multiple sampling times on so many commercial farms,” said John Reganold.

Amongst the findings were that organic strawberries had:

  • a longer shelf life;
  • higher antioxidant activity;
  • higher concentrations of ascorbic acid and phenolic compounds (but lower concentrations of phosphorus and potassium); and
  • for one variety, a sweeter and better flavour plus better overall acceptance and appearance than their conventional counterparts.

The organic soils were found to have:

  • more total carbon and nitrogen;
  • greater microbial biomass and activity;
  • higher concentrations of micronutrients; and
  • greater numbers of endemic genes and greater functional gene abundance and diversity for several biogeochemical processes such as nitrogen fixation.

The study has been published in the peer-reviewed online journal PLoS ONE.

If you have not yet tried growing (organically, of course) your own strawberries then please do try – my organic strawberries taste so much better than even the commercial organic berries.


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