Apprehensions about negative environmental impacts of conventional farming techniques, coupled with positive consumer
perceptions of the safety and quality of organic foods have contributed to growth in their demand. It has been demonstrated
that organically produced foods have lower levels of pesticides and veterinary drug residues, and in many cases, lower nitrate contents.
Organic production methods lead to increases in nutrient content, particularly organic acids and polyphenolic compounds, many
of which are considered to have potential human health benefits as antioxidants. Organic crops tend to have more vitamin C, sugars
and phenolics and fewer nitrates than conventionally grown produce. It has been estimated that organic crops, overall, contain
21% more iron and 29% more magnesium than their conventional counterparts. Organic crops showed higher phosphorus and
dry matter content and lower nitrogen content than conventional crops. The quality of amino acids was higher in organic products
indicating that more essential amino acids were available. Increased amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid
in organic dairy were noted. Consumption of organic foods provides protection against exposure to organophosphorus pesticides
commonly used in agricultural practices. Organic fruits and vegetables appear to have the potential to diminish the mutagenic action
of toxic compounds and inhibit the proliferation of certain cancer cell lines. For prevention of allergic dermatitis, the consumption of
organic dairy and meats can make a significant difference in health outcomes. This review discusses the differences between organic
foods and conventional foods on the parameters of food safety and nutritional composition.
Uma Chitra is Head, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Kasturba Gandhi College for Women, Secunderabad, AP, India. She was affiliated to
Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA as a Fulbright Visiting Lecturer in 2009. She is the recipient of the AP State Teacher Award for
Meritorious teachers from the Govt. of Andhra Pradesh. She is also the Vice-President of the Indian Dietetic Association, Andhra Pradesh chapter.
She has 12 publications in peer reviewed journals to her credit.
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