State of Science :: Nutritional Quality
"Identifying Smart Food Choices on the Path to Healthier Diets"
The Center had developed a comprehensive nutrient profiling system encompassing 27 important nutrients to help consumers identify smarter food choices. This report explains the need for and applications of the TOC-NQI, the calculations and concepts embedded in the system, and an overview of results.
What fruit delivers the most nutrition per 100 calories?
Does a serving of watermelon deliver more nutritional value than BigMac with cheese, or a salmon steak?
"Transforming Jane Doe's Diet"
Smart food choices, including buying organic, can play a major role in sustaining good health.
But how can a person turn a modestly unhealthy diet into a consistently healthy one?
"Transforming Jane Doe's Diet" provides clear, quantitative answers to this key question, drawing on The Organic Center's new "Nutritional Quality Index" (TOC-NQI) and our "Dietary Risk Index" (DRI).
Two-page Consumer Summary of Antioxidant SSR
This short report covers the highlights and key take home messages in the antioxidant SSR.
Organic Center Response to the FSA Study
The U.K. Food Standards Agency has had, for many years, a policy stating that there are no significant differences in the nutritional quality of organic and conventional food. In response to recent scientific challenges to this policy statement, the FSA commissioned a review of the literature, just published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition." The London-based team that carried out the FSA review concluded that there are, in effect, no important differences.
A March 2008 study by the TOC reached some markedly different conclusions. Here we explain why.
The Center's response is now also available in Spanish.
AAAS Session 2009 -- "Living Soil, Food Quality and the Future of Food"
The Organic Center, in cooperation with Washington State University, organized and sponsored a symposium at the 2009 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
"Show Me the Soil to Health Science - Building Alliances with Dietitians"
A leading dietitian challenges the organic community to produce science-based information linking organic farming systems to soil health and food nutritional quality.
"Nutritional Superiority of Plant-Based Organic Foods" Presentation at Ecofarm 2009
Overview of new science on the nutrient density of organic versus conventional food, and discussion of the prospects for the organic food industry to pursue "qualified health claims" under the "FDA Modernization Act."
2008 American Dietetic Association Presentations
October 27, 2008 presentations by Chuck Benbrook and Helen Costello at the 2008 anual meeting of the ADA in Chicago, Illinois (pdf files).
See also the "Organic Q&A" disseminated during the ADA meeting by Organic Valley.
American Public Health Association Annual Meeting -- 2008
Overview of recent science on the nutrient content of organic versus conventional foods presented at the annual meeting of the APHA in San Diego, California on October 28, 2008. Six slides to a page (pdf file).
Study Compares Conventional, rbST/rbGH Free, and Organic Milk
Monsanto-funded study of milk quality reaches some questionable conclusions.
"New Evidence Confirms the Nutritional Superiority of Plant-Based Organic Foods," State of Science Review, March 2008
Major new report comparing the nutrient content in conventional and organic foods, based on the findings of 97 published, peer-reviewed studies.
We are pleased to also offer the Executive Summary in Spanish.
"The Link Between Organic and Health: New Research Makes the Case for Organic Even Stronger," Organic Processor Magazine
A beatifully laid out cover story in "Organic Processing Magazine" surveys the major scientific milestones in 2007 shedding clearer light on the benefits of organic food and farming.
"Supplemental Information" for Nutrient Content SSR
Detailed results tables for the 135 study-crop combinations and the 11 nutrients addressed in the Center's nutrient content "State of Science Review."
Oregon Tilth 2008 Annual Meeting Presentation
Presentation by Chuck Benbrook on recent science shedding light on the nutritional quality benefits of organic food.
Food Quality Belongs Front and Center in "An Integrative View of Obesity"
Food quality may be the missing link in the assessment of how changes in the American diet have triggered an explosion in odesity and diabetes. Chuck Benbrook and Alan Greene explain why.
"Enhancing Food Nutritional Quality and Human Health Through Organic Farming Systems"
Presentation by Chuck Benbrook at the Second International Symposium on the Human Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables held in Houston, Texas, October 10-13, 2007.
"Still No Free Lunch: Nutrient levels in U.S. food supply eroded by pursuit of high yields"
Crops that are bred and managed primarily for high yields often contain lower concentrations of nutrients. This "Critical Issue Report" explores the extent and causes of what scientists call the "dilution effect."
Organic Milk and Meat Enhances the Nutritional Quality of Human Breast Milk
Consumption of organic milk and meat increases the levels of the dominant Conjugated Linoleic Acid in human breast milk. This benefit is traced back to increased reliance on pasture and forages on organic beef and dairy farms.
"The Impacts of Yield on Nutritional Quality: Lessons from Organic Farming," ASHS Meeting
A special symposium at the annual meeting of the American Society for Horticultural Science focused on a key question that lies at the heart of several ongoing Organic Center projects.
Soil Quality from Long-term Organic Management Nearly Doubles Flavonoids in Organic Tomatoes
Organic management nearly doubled the concentrations of two health-promoting flavonoids in tomatoes a long-term study in California.
Society for Nutrition Education Presentation
A wide-ranging presentation of new science supporting the benefits of organic food and farming was well received at the annual meeting of the Society for Nutrition Education.
Daily Deficiencies in Nutrient Intake
The average person consumes inadequate levels of 2.9 essential nutrients on a daily basis, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Consumption of Fruit and Vegetable Juices May Reduce Risk of Alzheimer's Disease
Scientists find that fruit and vegetable juice consumption can reduce risk of Alzheimer's Disease.
Key Differences Found Between Organic and Conventional Red Wines
Organic wines are found to have higher levels of resveratrol and total antioxidants, and are less prone to contamination with mycotoxins.
Organic Grapes Contain Higher Levels of Latent Polyphenol Oxidase then Conventionally Grown Wine Grapes
Spanish scientists find that organic grapes have higher levels of phenolic compounds known to play a direct role in plant defense mechanisms and taste.
Weather Conditions Account for Higher Levels of Anthocyanins in Conventional Syrah Grapes Compared to Organically Grown
Hot weather is identified as the likely reason conventional syrah grapes were found to have higher levels of Anthocyanins than organic grapes.
Fertilizer Type Found to Affect the Growth and Antioxidants in Tomatoes, but Not Yields
Sources of crop nutrients often used by organic tomato farmers are found to increase antioxidant levels, reduce shoot biomass, and mainatin yields comparable to conventional systems.
"Plucking the truth from research"
Recent media coverage in the U.K. critical of organic chicken is traced to its (lack of a) source.
"Do Organic Fruits and Vegetables Taste Better than Conventional Fruits and Vegetables?"
This SSR surveys published studies on differences in the taste and sensory quality of organic vs. conventional foods.
"Farming for Food Quality," WA Tilth-WSU Symposium
A symposium entitled "Farming for Food Quality" was held November 11, 2006 in Vancouver, Washington. The event was organized by Tilth Producers of Washington and Washington State University, with support from the Organic Center and several other sponsors.
"Quality of Organic Foods" Session at the 2006 Annual Meeting of the Institute of Food Technology
"Addressing the Quality Value of Organic Foods to Satisfy a Dynamic Organic Market," a symposium during the 2006 annual meeting of the IFT.
President of the Sierra Club on Nutrient Decline and Lack of Media Attention
Carl Pope, the President of the Sierra Club, has alerted his membership to the significant decline in the nutritional quality of fruits and vegetables, highlighting the presentation of Dr. Don Davis at the Organic Center-Tufts University sponsored session at the 2006 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
A Perspective on Nutrient Decline
Op-ed by Dr. Don Davis, University of Texas-Austin, on the factors contributing to the decline in nutrient concentrations in common fruit and vegetable crops over the last five decades. This op-ed was first published in the March 2005 issue of "Food Technology." More information on nutrient decline and the dilution effect is presented in Dr. Davis's presentation February 20, 2006 at the annual meeting of the AAAS. See also a summary of his paper on nutrient decline in 43 garden crops.
Manic for Organic
March 10, 2006 L.A. Times Editorial on the declining nutrient content of food, highlighting the work of Dr. Don Davis. The Editorial was triggered by the Organic Center-Tufts University symposium at the 2006 annual meeting of the AAAS. For more, see the presentation by Dr. Davis at the AAAS.
Higher Levels of Vitamin C and Lower Concentrations of Nitrogen Found in Organic Oranges
The search is underway for reliable and affordable tests to differentiate between organic and conventional foods. In the case of citrus, a new approach involving Vitamin C and nitrogen levels is showing more promise than comparative pesticide residue levels.
Organic Diet Improves Indicators of Health in a Novel European Experiment
New methods are under development to test whether and to what extent a diet composed of organic food and/or animal feed improves animal health. Improved immune system function appears to be one of the most significant benefits of a predominatly organic diet.
Italian Scientists Develop Novel Approach to Compare the Safety of Organic and Conventional Foods
A new method has been developed to rigorously test the impact of organic and conventional food on human health, taking into account the presence of pesticide residues, mycotoxins, and different levels of health-promoting antioxidants and vitamins.
Scientists Identify Key Lipid-Lowering Ingredient in Soybeans
Consumption of soybeans improves cardiovascular health by helping to remove LDL (bad) cholesterol from the blood stream. For years scientists have looked for the active agent in soybeans responsible for this benefit. It has been found -- as has the mechanism through which it works.
Something Else Going On : The Health Benefits from Antioxidants in Produce Prove Superior to Benefits from Supplements
When it comes to promoting human health, new research shows there is "something else going on" when people consume whole foods, rich in antioxidants and minerals, in contrast to dietary supplements that provide comparable levels of nutrients.
Health Benefits of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
Milk, most dairy products, beef, lamb, and pork are the major dietary sources of CLA -- "good" fats that can reduce fat storage in humans, inhibite tumor development, and promote sensitivity to insulin. CLA levels are often markedly elevated in milk produced on grass-based organic diary farms, compared to farms feeding cows high-energy grain-based rations.
Nutrient Decline Linked to the "Dilution" Effect
The levels of six nutrients have declined signifiantly in 43 crops since the 1950s, according to an important new study by Dr. Don Davis, University of Texas-Austin. Sorting out why is a top priority for The Organic Center and will point the way toward organic farming systems that maximize nutrient density, and hence nutritional value per serving of food and calorie consumed.
For more on nutrient decline, see the Don Davis presentation at the 2006 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science , as well as the other presentations made at the Organic Center-Tufts University sponsored symposium entitled "Undertanding and Nourishing the Roots of Food Quality."
New Science Supports Old Advice "Eat a Variety of Foods" and Highlights the Need to Increase Nutrient Density
Everyone has heard the advice "Eat a diverse diet," a recommendation that has been a part of government dietary guidelines for decades. But few studies have explored the relationship between dietary diversity and the adequacy of nutrient uptake. The few studies that have been done have reached different conclusions, in part because there is no standard definition, or way to measure, "dietary diversity."
Organic Catsup Found to Contain More Than 50% Higher Levels of the Beneficial Antioxidant Lycopene
USDA scientists found that organic brands of catsup contained 57 percent higher levels of the health-promoting antioxidant lycopene compared to six national brands. The team also found twice the level of antioxidant activity in an organic catsup brand compared to a brand sold in fast food restaurants and/or vending machines. On average the organic brands had about two-thirds higher total antioxidant capacity compared to the major national brands. The authors provide a "rule of thumb" to consumers - the deeper and darker the red color, the richer the catsup in antioxidants.