Organic devotees look away. Which? Gardening’s latest research suggests that veg grown non-organically tastes better, has more nutrients and often has higher yields than organically grown equivalents.
Surprised? So were we. And we’d be the first to say that the results from this trial are not definitive – this was a small-scale trial, involving three types of veg – potato, tomato and broccoli (calabrese).
This isn’t the first time that organic food has come out poorly in research. In 2009 the Food Standards Agency published a report which claimed there were no significant benefits to be gained from eating organic. But of course, that was all about organic farming, and not about growing your own.
Health risks of pesticides
However, back in 1991 Which? Gardening was so concerned about pesticide residues on home-grown food that we carried out a trial. We grew carrots and lettuces and treated them with a wide range of garden chemicals up to their maximum limits.
Even back then we concluded that the residues left behind were within the limits laid down for commercial growing, and that they were unlikely to pose any health risks.
Is it worth gardening organically?
So where does this leave us? Like many people, I grow the food I eat organically, and that’s not going to change. I buy into the whole ethos of organic gardening and I accept that I’ll lose a few crops to pests or diseases, frustrating though it is.
I don’t want to douse my crops with chemicals, which for all I know could create a potentially harmful ‘chemical cocktail’.
What about you? Is gardening organically a waste of time and effort, and are you happy to use chemicals when necessary? Or should we all be learning to garden organically?