They found no noted differences between conventional and organic crops with regard to vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc and copper content. Organic crops did have higher levels of phosphorus, and conventionally produced crops had higher levels of nitrogen.
No differences in nutrient content were indicated in the livestock studies, according to the review.
The Oregon-based Organic Center, which promotes organic food, conducted a similar review of the literature, said Charles Benbrook, chief scientist for the Center. That study yielded results similar to those in the British study, but it also found higher levels of healthy antioxidants and polyphenols in organic foods.
"Given that some of the most significant differences favoring organic foods were for key antioxidant nutrients that most Americans do not get enough of on most days, we concluded that the consumption of organic fruits and vegetables, in particular, offered significant health benefits, roughly equivalent to an additional serving of a moderately nutrient dense fruit or vegetable on an average day," Benbrook said.
And there's another aspect to the organic vs. conventional food debate, said Sheah Rarback, director of nutrition at the Mailman Center for Child Development at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
"You have to also look at what you're not getting" with organic foods, she said. "Maybe it's not a big difference nutritionally, but conventional products may have more pesticides."
And that's a particularly important issue for children, she said.
"We know that young children are getting the nutrition, whatever choice they make, but we also have to look at the pesticide issue," Rarback said. "A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that children eating conventionally grown fruit had pes
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