A new study has found that organic strawberries contain more nutrients, are tastier, and are better for the soil than conventionally grown strawberries.
The study, “Fruit and Soil Quality of Organic and Conventional Strawberry Agroecosystems,” was led by John Reganold, a professor of soil science at Washington State University Regents. Although the study only looked at strawberries, it is considered to be one of the most comprehensive studies yet on the benefits of organic produce.
Researchers studied harvests of 13 fields of organically grown strawberries and 13 fields of conventionally grown strawberries harvested over two years in California. The fields were adjacent, so that soil type and weather conditions were identical. The strawberries were then picked, transported and stored under identical conditions. With help from soil and food scientists, and experts in genetics and statistics, the researchers analyzed 31 soil properties, soil DNA, taste and nutritional quality of three strawberry varieties.
They found that the organic strawberries were higher in antioxidants, vitamin C and total phenolics. The plants were also healthier, with less post-harvest fungal rots. Consumer sensory panels also preferred the organic strawberries for their appearance and sweetness. However, the conventional strawberries were found to have higher levels of phosphorus and potassium.
Soil was also found to be healthier when farmed organically, with higher levels of zinc, boron, sodium and iron. Biological properties such as enzyme activities were also better in the organic soil.