Sustainable farming: Higher in phytochemicals

It is well understood that phytochemicals play a vital role in plant defense mechanisms, and increasing evidence suggests that phytochemicals play a crucial role in human health (Asami, Hong, Barrett & Mitchell, 2003). However, there is speculation as to whether the phytochemical content of conventional food is comparative to food that is organically or sustainably farmed. To better understand this issue, researchers from The University of California compared the the total phenolic and ascrobic acid content of freeze dried and air dried marionberry, strawberry and corn, grown using conventional, organic and susatinable agriculture (Asami, Hong, Barrett & Mitchell, 2003). The results of this study found that the total phenolics in milligrams per gram of fresh marionberries was 400 mg/100g for conventionally frozen, 600 mg/100g of organically grown and 620 mg/100g for sustainably grown. This trend was observed for both freeze-dried and air-dried methods for both marionberry, strawberries and corn. This being so, despite the benefits of organic farming, it is clear from this study that sustainable farming has the greatest impact on preserving the phytochemical content of food.

Asami, D.K., Hong, Y.J., Barrett, D.M. & Mitchell, A.J. 2003. Comparison of the total phenolic and ascorbic acid content of freeze-dried and air-dried marionberry, strawberry, and corn using conventional, organic and sustainable agricultural practices. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, 51, 5, 1237-1241.

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