/ Food & Drink

Organic food loses our taste test – surprised?

Colourful fruit and veg

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?

Comments
Guest
Vic Shorrocks says:
29 March 2011

Those who grow and eat organic vegetables should be aware that if their crop is attacked by a pest or disease it will contain far more potentially harmful chemicals (natural pesticides) than a crop that has been protected with man-made pesticides. (see the comment on 25 February).

Guest

“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”

Having encountered a similar story in the Daily Mail, I knew then it could be dismissed.

🙂

Organic produce does taste better, any person who has tried it who do not have their taste buds and sense of smell ruined, jaded or even, compromised by smoking can tell this – the difference is often not night and day, the organic versions have a certain ‘unforced’ and effortless quality and subtlety about the taste, it’s hard to describe.

It’s not so much that it has MORE taste, but more so what it does *not* taste of.

A more accessable analogy is the difference between Real Hi-Fi and Bose, or compare Asda Smart price ketchup with a better ketchup.

Guest

Might not be the best analogy according to our blind ketchup taste test: https://conversation.which.co.uk/energy-home/heinz-ketchup-loses-our-taste-test/

Guest

“Might not be the best analogy according to our blind ketchup taste test: https://conversation.which.co.uk/energy-home/heinz-ketchup-loses-our-taste-test

You’ll see what I mean when you ‘experience’, as it were, Asda Smart Price ketchup then, verily, it is truly the pits!

Well, I’ll make it even easier – “My Mum’s” brand ketchup versus a better ketchup.

And note I said originally a BETTER ketchup, not necessarily a more expensive one!

Guest

First let me say that I am NOT surprised by this trial, if it was a truly, above board, scientific trail. But even the article mentions that it was a small trial. So, to a certain degree, the results have to be taken with a grain of salt.

That being said, there is a significant difference between “organic” and “nutrient dense organic food.” Many times organic gardeners take a VERY simplistic approach to gardening. I know because that is how I grew for many years, BEFORE I educated myself. And by educated, I mean I embarked on a 5 year long course of personal study and experimentation that culminated with my founding an organic fertilizer company, (Mighty Grow Organics) and becoming a recognized expert in the organic soil amendment industry.

So, in bottom line terms, to grow nutrient dense fruits and veggies, you need an organically vibrant soil with a balance of plant available minerals with plenty of the proper types of organic matter and beneficial micro-organisms. It is really that simple. But let me tell you what will NOT work. Just putting grass clippings and leaves in the garden soil hoping you are getting the correct nutrients without taking soil samples and without using good quality organic soil amendments. Above all you have to add trace minerals back to the soil, if you need them.

So, while organically grown produce may be inferior in some respects to conventionally grown produce, nutrient dense organic produce will ALWAYS be better than conventionally grown crops. All it takes is a little dedication, a little patience and the right education about the correct way to garden and you too can grow food you would be proud to serve to the Queen.

Michael in Alabama, USA

Guest

Hear-hear…

Guest

First let me say that I am NOT surprised by this trial, if it was a truly, above board, scientific trail. But even the article mentions that it was a small trial. So, to a certain degree, the results have to be taken with a grain of salt.

That being said, there is a significant difference between “organic” and “nutrient dense organic food.” Many times organic gardeners take a VERY simplistic approach to gardening. I know because that is how I grew for many years, BEFORE I educated myself. And by educated, I mean I embarked on a 5 year long course of personal study and experimentation that culminated with my founding an organic fertilizer company, (Mighty Grow Organics) and becoming a recognized expert in the organic soil amendment industry.

So, in bottom line terms, to grow nutrient dense fruits and veggies, you need an organically vibrant soil with a balance of plant available minerals with plenty of the proper types of organic matter and beneficial micro-organisms. It is really that simple. But let me tell you what will NOT work. Just putting grass clippings and leaves in the garden soil hoping you are getting the correct nutrients without taking soil samples and without using good quality organic soil amendments. Above all you have to add trace minerals back to the soil, if you need them.

So, while organically grown produce may be inferior in some respects to conventionally grown produce, nutrient dense organic produce will ALWAYS be better than conventionally grown crops. All it takes is a little dedication, a little patience and the right education about the correct way to garden and you too can grow food you would be proud to serve to the Queen.

Michael in Alabama, USA

Guest

You may want to join our latest debate: Is organic food actually better for you? – it takes a look at some of the recent studies on organic food: https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/organic-food-better-for-you-health/

Guest
Stephen says:
17 September 2012

Organic has been oversold, I am not at all surprised that it is no better than conventional food.