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A nutritional boom

Organics A nutritional boomby David SteinmanIf you buy organically grown produce, you already know you're reducing your exposure to the pesticides used in conventional agriculture. Now a study in the Journal of Applied Nutrition (vol. 45, no. 1) indicates you also may be increasing your intake of trace miners. Over a two-year period, Bob Smith, the study's author and president of Doctor's Data, a trace minerals laboratory in West Chicago, Ill., compared organic and conventional apples, pears, potatoes, corn and wheat. Among his findings: The organic produce contained, on average, 63 per cent more calcium, 59 per cent more iron and 60 per cent more zinc; overall, the organic foods contained more of 20 out of 22 trace elements studied. Furthermore, the organic produce contained smaller amounts of harmful trace elements: on average, 40 per cent less aluminum, 29 per cent less lead and 25 per cent less mercury. Smith initiated his study after discovering that the conventionally grown wheat he used to bake bread with was deficient in selenium. He based his research on organic and conventional produce he bought from local markets. "I wanted to conduct the study from the consumer's point of view," says Smith. Although other studies also have found greater amounts of trace minerals in organic produce, these findings were based on dried, powdered produce, which often can have a much different mineral content from fresh produce. Smith acknowledges that his study has limitations. For example, he did not account for differences in regional soil concentrations of trace minerals or in handling, transportation and storage methods, all of which can affect nutritional content. Nor did he verify that foods with organic labels were in fact grown organically. Nevertheless, contends Smith, he has at least achieved the goal of raising a red flag for government researchers as well as the mainstream food industry. "I want government and industry to look at my work and then do their own (controlled) studies, and let's see what they find," says Smith. "I think they'll find what I found."Reprinted from Vegetarian Times

Copyright 1994 REAP Canada

Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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