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From the News Archives...

A surprising benefit of eating organic fruits and vegetables

Many consumers balk at spending more for organic food, whether it's grapes or a steak from a steer raised on organically certified pasture. Why pay more when the USDA assures us that conventionally raised products have "safe levels" of pesticides and other toxins?

One reason is that organically raised food may be richer in antioxidants. For example, in nature, plants respond to an insect invasion by producing substances called "phenolics." Alyson Mitchell, a food scientist at the University of California, says that "If an aphid is nibbling on a leaf, the plant produces phenolics to defend itself." Aphids don't like the taste of phenolics, so they abandon the plant and search for more flavorful victims. Researchers are now learning that phenolics are potent antioxidants that help defend us against cancer, cataracts, heart disease and may even slow the rate of aging.

Organic fruits and vegetables can have up to 50 percent more phenolics than produce that has been sprayed with pesticides.

Asami, D. K., Y. J. Hong, et al. (2003). "Comparison of the total phenolic and ascorbic acid content of freeze-dried and air-dried marion berry, strawberry, and corn grown using conventional, organic, and sustainable agricultural practices." J Agric Food Chem 51(5): 1237-41.


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