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Research turning the tables for organic

Date Published: 25/05/2011

We knew it was out there. We knew it was coming. But when, in 2009, the Food Standards Agency and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine sparked something of a trashing of the reputation of organic food in the media, we didn’t have the science to fight back with. Now we do.

Organic tomatoesWe’re talking about the Quality Low Input Food (QLIF) study, co-0rdinated by Newcastle University and taking a multi-year, multi-country view on research into the health and nutritional qualities of organic food and farming.

Peer-reviewed reports are now starting to come out of this work, which the FSA report failed to consider because of the cut-off dates it applied to the research it was prepared to review. And the results coming out are looking like everything we expected, showing (as the Daily Mail puts it) that organic fruit and vegetables are “packed with more nutrients”.

It’s early days and there is lots of information to go through, but the Daily Mail piece from this week will give you the gist of it.

Professor Carlo Leifert, of Newcastle University, has been good enough to send us some of the so-far published material and we’ll go through that in more detail in good time.

But, for now, it’s great to know that there is highly credible, well-researched data coming through that tells us more about the kind of food that organic systems produce.

Of course it’s always worth remembering that, as we’ve said all along, organic food production is not about nutritional value first and foremost. It’s about preserving and improving the soil that is such a critical (and declining) asset to us, about protecting and enhancing animal welfare, reducing or altogether avoiding chemical inputs and giving people who care about these things the choice to follow their heads when they shop.

That said, if it can in future be stated without doubt that organic food is better for you as well, you wouldn’t find anyone in the sector complaining!