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Ask the experts: Organics

Q: "I've heard organic food is more nutritious than inorganically grown produce. Should I be trying to eat more organics?"

(Name not supplied)

A: There doesn't seem to be any consensus about this yet: some research says yes, some says no. And when more nutrients have been found in organic produce, the difference has been too small to be nutritionally important.

There is consensus that organics have lower levels of pesticide residues. Some organically grown crops have also been shown to contain fewer nitrates; under certain conditions, nitrates can be converted to carcinogens in our bodies. A newer area of research is finding that organics may contain higher levels of antioxidants and other photochemicals. One theory suggests that because organic plants are not protected by pesticides, they produce higher amounts of these protective chemicals themselves.

For all of this interesting research, the differences between organics and conventional produce have not been shown to be at a level that would have a significant impact on human health. While many people choosing organics do so because they believe they are healthier, this is not currently supported by the evidence.