A representative of California-based Organics Unlimited has responded to criticism of the recent comparative study into organic and conventional crops, saying the sustainability aspects are far more important than nutritional content.
A study led by the U.K.’s Newcastle University found organic produce could have up to 69% higher levels of antioxidants, but the findings were met with disapproval by some scientists.
It was claimed there were far too many factors that affected the nutritional content of any two different crops, and that the public health benefits of antioxidants had been vastly overstated.
However, Organics Unlimited CEO Mayra Velazquez de Leon told www.freshfruitportal.com the environmental and sustainability elements associated with organic farming should be given more weight than any potential health benefits.
“I wouldn’t even think about studies, because we’re not applying any chemicals into the soil,” she said.
“By growing organic there are no chemicals and of course no heavy metals.”
De Leon also agreed with the criticism of the Newcastle University study that stated it was virtually impossible to compare organic and conventional produce in terms of nutrition, as there were too many additional factors to consider.
“Just take any product, if we think about bananas – bananas grown in Mexico taste different to the ones grown in Ecuador or the Dominican Republic,” she said.
“There’s no way we can compare apples to apples, even when they’re all apples.
“There are just too many factors that are involved. There’s no way we can say ‘this is the reason why antioxidants are higher’.”
People are ‘looking to change the world’
In terms of growth throughout the organic sector, a representative of U.K.-based Ethical Fruit Company said organic produce had a major branding issue in that it was often considered as only for the higher classes, leading to many people avoiding it.
De Leon dismissed these claims saying consumers were starting to see the bigger picture when it came to organics.
“I’ve seen it changing quite a bit. It’s been growing year after year and I’ve seen organic produce in all the supermarket stores nowadays, which we just wouldn’t have seen five years ago,” she said.
“Now we see the organic section everywhere, it doesn’t matter what chain store it is – even Walmart is getting into it.
“So I think it’s a growing trend, I think people are really looking to change the world, taking care of the environment, taking care of our soil, and taking care of their health.
“We’re eating healthier, we’re exercising more, so I see that trend going up right now and I expect it to increase even more in the next few years.”