Quality of Organic Food (was Re: British Beef Situation) (fwd)
>From amani.ces.ncsu.edu!almanac-request Wed May 1 00:45:29 1996
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Steve Diver)
Subject: Quality of Organic Food (was Re: British Beef Situation)
Date: Tue, 30 Apr 1996 23:48:52 -0500 (CDT)
In-Reply-To: <email@example.com> from "David Scott Libby" at Apr 30, 96 09:09:00 am
> Here is an extract of a recent report from Rutgers University
> entitled "Variation in Mineral Content in Vegetables" (Firman
> E.Bear report).
> In this study, the inorganic vegetables were bought at a standard
> supermarket and compared with organic vegetables grown in
> naturally-fertilised soil.
> *(1) P | Ca Mg K Na B Mn Fe Cu Co
> SNAP BEANS
> Organic 10.45 0.36 | 40.5 60.0 99.7 8.6 | 73 60 227 69 .26
> Non-Org 4.04 0.22 | 15.5 14.8 29.1 0.0 | 10 2 10 3 .00
> CONCLUSION: Commercially grown, inorganic vegetables are very low in mineral
> and trace mineral content.
The study listed above DID NOT investigate organic versus commercial
produce. Somebody mis-printed the tables and for years
it has circulated as fact. Too bad because it clouds an
otherwise good study done by Rutgers researchers.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the Soil
Science Society of America, examined the mineral composition
of vegetables grown on different soil types.
Dr. Firman Bear and his colleagues found that vegetables grown on heavy
soils in the Ohio Valley had a greater mineral content than
produce grown on sandy Coastal Plain soils near the East Coast.
These results are important because they show that soil type--and
probably soil organic matter content--affect the mineral
composition of foods grown on them.
There are many environmental and cultural factors that influence
the nutritional composition of produce, and these may ultimately
play a greater role in food quality than simple organic versus
Environmental conditions likely to affect food quality include
geographical area, soil type, soil moisture, soil health (humus
content, fertility, microbial activity, etc.), weather and
climatic conditions (temperature, rainfall, flooding, drought),
Cultural practices likely to affect food quality include humus
management techniques such as green manuring and composting,
variety, seed source, length of growing season, irrigation,
fertilization, cultivation, and postharvest handling (especially
temperature and relative humidity).
The article by Sharon Hornick, "Factors Affecting the
Nutritional Quality of Crops," provides a comprehensive review of
these factors. This paper was published in a special issue of The
American Journal of Alternative Agriculture containing the
proceedings of a Conference on the Assessment and Monitoring of
On the other hand, there are actually quite a number of
studies that "have" shown significant differences between
the nutritional quality of organic and conventionally-
raised foods. It is not simply folklore as suggested
in an earlier thread. Many of the studies favor organic but of course
there are others which show no differences.
But, just because some farmer produces food according to
certified organic guidelines does not mean that this
food will be superior however, and the reasons are due
to all the factors in the above paragraphs.
That is why a refractometer and other qualitative methods
of measurement are good indicators. Paper chromatography
is perhaps a better indicator than atomic absorption
spectophotometry for food quality. Fractionation of proteins
and vitamins etc. to visually observe content and balance
rather than elemental concentration as sole indicator.
The recent research by Dr. Phil Callahan on paramagnetism
may prove to be a factor. From this it can be seen that organic
has advantages for the humus factor and biological activity.
On the other, natural rock powders derived from paramagnetic
origin may be critical to establish a weak charge. The
magnetism created thus influences mineral uptake and plant health.
The PCSM Meter is available for anybody to see for themselves
differences in depleted soils and healthy soils. Originally
developed for the mining industry at $6,000, it is now
available to farmers thru Pike Lab Supplies for $400.
To my knowledge it has not been taken up by any land-grants
as yet as a research topic; though Callan himself spent 30 years
as a USDA-ARS Entomologist before retiring to compile his monumental
book "Paramagetism" published by Acres, U.S.A.
Ultimately, how people "feel" after eating food is what counts.
Health conscious yoga practitioners who are in tune with their
bodies self-select natural and organic foods and this
fact has merit comparable to a dozen scientific studies.
Food quality is defined more broadly by the Soil Association in
England. They adopted standards developed at the University of
Kassel and the Elm Farm Research Centre, two European research
institutes actively conducting organic farming systems research.
Six criteria--Sensual, Authenticity, Functional, Nutritional,
Biological, and Ethical--make up this new holistic approach.
Food Quality: Concepts & Methodology is the proceedings of an
international colloquium organized by the Elm Farm Research Centre
and the University of Kassel. It is a 64-page book published in
1992. It is available for 10 pounds in English currency (about
Elm Farm Research Centre
Berkshire RG15 OHR
The Ecological Agriculture Project at MacDonald College of McGill
University in Canada has published several informative reports and
bibliographies on this topic. Titles include "Soil Conditions and
Food Quality", "Soil Fertility and the Nutritional Quality of
Food," and "Comparison of Food Quality of Organically Versus
Conventionally Grown Plant Foods." Contact:
Ecological Agriculture Project
Box 191, MacDonald College
Ste-Anne De Bellevue, Quebec
Canada H9X 1CO
Additional comments can be found below. I have
investigated this topic over several years; it is a central
issue in our modern food production system...the relationhsip
between farming system and health of people and livestock.
Bear, Firman E. 1948. Variations in mineral
composition of vegetables. Soil Sci. Soc. Proc. Vol.
13. p. 380-384.
Hornick, Sharon B. 1992. Factors affecting the nutritional
quality of crops. Am. J. Alt. Agric. Vol. 7, No. 1-2. p. 63-68.
Beddoe, A.F. 1992. Nourishment Home Grown. Agro-Bio
Systems, Grass Valley, CA. 299 p.
Peavy, William S., and Warren Peary. 1993. Super
Nutrition Gardening. Avery Publishing Co., Garden City,
NY. 236 p.
Velimirov, A. et al. 1992. The influence of
biologically and conventionally cultivated food on the
fertility of rats. Biological Agriculture and
Horticulture. Vol. 8. p. 325-337.
Plochberger, K. 1989. Feeding experiments. A
criterion for quality estimation of biologically and
conventionally produced foods. Agriculture, Ecosystems
and Environment. Vol. 27. p. 419-428.
Knorr, Dietrich. 1982. Use of a circular
chromatographic method for the distinction of collard
plants grown under different fertilizing conditions.
Biological Agriculture and Horticulture. Vol. 1. p.
Anon. 1988. The value of organic food. The Living Earth.
July-September. p. 16-17.
Anon. 1992. Towards a new definition of food quality. NOFA-NY
News. January/February. p. 3 & 6.
Feenstra, Gail. 1992. Vitamin and mineral contents of carrot and
celeriac grown under mineral or organic fertilization.
Components. Vol. 3, No. 1. p. 9-10. Review of Leclerc, J., et
al. 1991. Biological Agriculture and Horticulture, Vol. 7. p.
Hood, Sam. 1993. Exhausted soil produces exhausted people.
Acres, U.S.A. June. p. 30 & 39.
Hornick, Sharon B. 1992. Factors affecting the nutritional
quality of crops. Am. J. Alt. Agric. Vol. 7, No. 1-2. p. 63-68.
Kenton, Leslie. 1988. Eat organic, and live well. The Secrets
of Ecological Agriculture. The Living Earth. July-September. p.
Knorr, Dietrich, and Hartmut Vogtmann. 1983. Quality of
and quality determination of ecologically grown foods.
p. 352-381. In: Knorr, Dietrich (ed.) Sustainable Food Systems.
The AVI Publishing Co., Westport, CT.
Lairon, D., et al. 1986. Effects of organic and mineral
fertilizations on the contents of vegetables in minerals, vitamin
C, and nitrates. p. 249-260. In: The Importance of Biological
Agriculture in a World of Diminishing Resources. Proceedings of
the 5th IFOAM International Scientific Conference at the
University of Kassel (Germany).
Lampkin, Nicolas. 1990. Organic Farming. Farming Press,
Ipswich, United Kingdom. p. 557-573, and 608-610.
Ausebel, Kenny. 1994. Seeds of Change: The Living Treasure.
HarperSanFrancisco, San Francisco, CA. 232 p.
Clancy, Katherine L. 1986. The role of sustainable agriculture
in improving the safety and quality of the food supply. American
Journal of Alternative Agriculture. Winter. p. 11-18.
Comis, Don. 1989. Nitrogen overload may shrivel vitamin content.
Agricultural Research. July. p. 10-11.
Eggert, F. P. 1983. Effect of soil management practices on yield
and foliar nutrient concentration of dry beans, carrots, and
tomatoes. p. 247-259. In: Lockeretz, W. (ed.) Environmentally
Sound Agriculture. Praeger Scientific, NY.
Fischer, Ada, and C.H. Richter. 1986. Influence of organic and
mineral fertilizers on yield and quality of potatoes.
p. 236-248. In: The Importance of Biological Agriculture in a
World of Diminishing Resources. Proceedings of the 5th IFOAM
Conference at the University of Kassel (Germany).
Howard, Sir Albert. 1947. The Soil and Health. The Devin-Adair
Co., New York. 307 p.
Knorr, Dietrich. 1982. Natural and organic foods: definitions,
quality, and problems. Cereal Foods World. Vol. 27, No. 4. p.
Maga, Joseph A. 1983. Organically grown foods. p. 305-349. In:
Knorr, Dietrich (ed.) Sustainable Food Systems. The AVI
Publishing Co., Westport, CT.
McSheelhy, T.W. 1977. Nutritive value of wheat grown under
organic and chemical systems of farming. Qualitas Planatarum -
Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. Vol. 27. p. 113-123.
Schupman, W. 1975. Yield maximisation versus biological value.
Qualitas Planatarum - Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. Vol. 24.
Shier, N. W., et. al. 1984. A comparison of crude protein,
moisture, ash and crop yield between organic and conventionally
grown wheat. Nutrition Reports International. Vol. 30, No. 1.
Nourishment Home Grown by Dr. A.F. Beddoe is based on the
notion that a decline in American's health is due to poor food
quality, which, in turn, is due to poor soil conditions. Beddoe
promotes biological farming methods based on the theories of Dr.
Carey Reams to raise foods with a "higher nutrient density."
Beddoe's book is available through Agro-Bio Systems in Grass
Valley, California for about $20.00. Contact:
P.O. Box 1250
Grass Valley, CA 95945
Super Nutrition Gardening by Dr. William S. Peavy and Warren
Peary lists numerous references to scientific and U.S.D.A.
literature that support the relation of food nutrition to the
condition of soils. Following sections on food nutrition, the
remainder of the book focuses on organic gardening techniques, and
in particular, an outline of a seven-step program for restoring
soil fertility. Peavy and Peary's book is available for about
Avery Publishing Group
120 Old Broadway
Garden City Park, NY 11040
A simple instrument commonly used in the produce industry that is
gaining wider use among alternative farmers is the refractometer.
It measures soluble solids and sugars of sap squeezed from fruits
or vegetables on a scale known as degrees brix. A higher brix
reading usually correlates to better taste and higher mineral
An alternative approach to measuring food quality is the use of
novel methods of qualitative analysis. These methods are reviewed
by Lampkin in Organic Farming. These include (a) image-forming
techniques such as certain types of chromatography and water-droplet
patterns, (b) physical-chemical techniques such as counting photon
emissions from samples of food and measuring electrical conductivity
and other electro-chemical properties of food, and (c) microbiological
and biochemical techniques.
Chromatography Applied to Quality Testing is a 44-page handbook by
Ehrenfried Pfeiffer on the paper chromatography method. Included
are laboratory standards for preparation and extractions of
samples. This method can be used to assess the quality of
produce, grains, compost, and soil humus. To order, contact:
Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association, Inc.
P.O. Box 550
Kimberton, PA 19442
According to literature from the Elm Farm Research Centre in
England, "the employment of these novel methods is an attempt
to identify a characteristic of food other than the currently
measurable components such as nutrients, vitamins, and residues.
This characteristic, which could be called "vitality", is thought
by some to be important to the health of all living organisms and
can be passed on through the food chain."
The concept of "vital energy" is not very common to Western
science. However, in the Orient, this vital or subtle energy is
widely recognized and known as "prana" or "chi." At least two
schools of alternative agriculture recognize such energy and try
to enhance this life energy on the farm.
As an example, some of the farmers that follow fertility
management guidelines established by Dr. Carey Reams use
electrical scanners, or radionics instruments, to measure the
"general vitality" of soil, plant, and animal samples. In turn,
radionics instruments are then used to formulate feed and
Biodynamic agriculture is based on the premise that subtle energy
forces affect the health of crop and livestock, and many
biodynamic practices are aimed at enhancing this natural energy.
In addition, certified biodynamic produce--marketed under the
Demeter label--is promoted as food of high quality.
š . € .. šè permaculture-faq.v1.0 From firstname.lastname@example.org Sun Nov 20 14:01:38 EST 1994
Article: 939 of bionet.agroforestry
From: email@example.com (Inst. for Bioreg. Studies)
Subject: Farming with Hedgerows
Date: 17 Nov 1994 09:39:30 -0400
Organization: PEINet, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada
About a month ago I mentioned on this list that I was doing some
research on the economic and ecological value of hedgerows. One
result of this work has been the writing of a brochure listing
values, design considerations, species reccommendations and a
resource material list. If anyone would like to review the rough
draft of this brochure (18 pages) I would be happy to forward it
Phil Ferraro, Director
Institute for Bioregional Studies
449 University Avenue Suite 126 "Developing Local Solutions to
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island Global Problems"
Canada C1A 8K3