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The Downside Of Organic Produce

Armen Hareyan's picture

Some studies have been trumpeted as having finally shown the nutritional superiority of organic foods, but other studies of similar crops show either no difference, or indicate superiority\nof conventional produce.

When you detach from the hype you can learn a valuable lesson about the quality of the food we eat.

Some studies have been trumpeted as having finally shown the nutritional superiority of organic foods, but other studies of similar crops show either no difference, or indicate superiority of conventional produce.

Promoters of organic produce frequently cite the Firman Bear Report from Rutgers University as evidence of the superiority of organic foods. To the contrary, the Firman Bear Report has nothing to do with organic produce.

From the Rutgers University Web site: "A study conducted at Rutgers University (Bear et al., 1948) is frequently misquoted as evidence supporting the position that organically grown vegetables are significantly superior in minerals and trace elements to conventionally grown vegetables.

In reviewing the original publication, one can clearly see that this was not the intention of the study nor does it give support to this premise. The purpose of the study was to compare the mineral composition of vegetables "as one proceeds from south to north and from east to west in the United States."

Samples of cabbage, lettuce, snapbean, spinach, and tomato were obtained from commercial fields of these crops and analyzed for mineral composition. A total of 204 samples were examined.

The vegetables sampled were usually, but not always, of the same variety. The authors reported, in a table, the range in mineral concentration as highest and lowest values observed among the vegetables sampled.

These highest and lowest values have been misrepresented as vegetables grown organically and inorganically, respectively, in various organic farming and health food newsletters, which cite the report (copies of the misquotes are available on request).

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The fundamental revelation of the Firman Bear Report was that the mineral content of vegetables depends upon the mineral content of the soil where those vegetables are grown.

Back in 1948 Firman Bear showed the range of mineral variation in vegetables to be extreme. Some people were eating lettuce with 3.5 times the mineral content of lettuce others were eating. However, the majority of folks were eating vegetables with miniscule amounts of magnesium, copper, manganese, cobalt and iron, all vital to the operation of our metabolic enzymes.

Just like conventional produce, the mineral content of organic produce depends upon the mineral content of the soil where that produce was grown.

Securing an 'organic' label for produce in no way guarantees that the magnesium, copper, manganese, cobalt and iron content of the soils where that produce was grown has been magically elevated to the higher levels of 1948.

Firman Bear revealed that a lot of farmers produced vegetables without cobalt and other minerals. This is hardly a surprise when you consider that for decades minerals have been taken out of the soil and not replaced.

Cobalt is required for our metabolic enzyme systems. It is needed for the production of thyroid hormones and myelin, the insulating material found around nerves.

Does an organic tomato purchased today at a stand in a farmer's market guarantee you a dose of cobalt? No. And eating organic produce does not guarantee you get regular and consistent amounts of the other minerals required by your metabolic enzyme systems.

You can find some folks putting minerals back in the soil, and God bless them. But it will take decades to reverse a century of neglect and abuse of our soils.


Copyright 2004 William R. Quesnell

Bill Quesnell, health educator and author of 'Minerals: The Essential Link to Health,' helps people recover energy and vitality. Phone: 619/222-2268 Toll free orders: Write Bill at 5039 Voltaire St. #3, San Diego, CA 92107



This is the worst article. The study does show that organic is superior. The statement that this wasn't the "intent" is absurd.