Organic vs non-organic is a debate that has been raging for some time now. Let me briefly summarise the key points –
John Reganold and Jonathan Wachter reviewed 40 years of science and numerous scientific studies to understand the long-term prospects of organic and conventional farming.
The research shows that the average yield in organic farming systems is 10 to 20% less than conventional agriculture. These farms are more profitable and environmentally friendly. Higher profitability is attributed to the willingness of the customer to pay more for organic products.
It is also understood that organic farm produce is more nutritious, contains little or no pesticide residues, provides more employment, improves soil biodiversity, shows better crop pollination, has better soil structure and therefore less soil erosion and is more energy-efficient.
Organic farms can probably feed the 10 billion people in 2050 provided people were to turn vegan. Dairy and meat both require greener matter per unit of food energy when compared to crops, fruits and vegetables.
Such a lifestyle change is unlikely to happen and brings us back to the equation as to how the world can afford lower productivity in organic farms when compared to conventional farming.
A comparison of the nutritional value, sensory qualities and food safety of organically and conventionally produced foods were done. Except for nitrate content there is no strong evidence that organic and conventional foods differ in concentrations of various nutrients or even contaminants (Bourn et al., 2002).
162 studies of which 137 examined nutrient quality in crop products and 25 livestock products were analyzed. It was found that conventionally produced crops had a significantly higher content of nitrogen and organic crops had a higher content of phosphorus and higher titratable acidity. The scientists also noted that there is no evidence of a difference in nutrient quality between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs. Small differences in nutrient content between the two could be related to differences in production methods (Dangour et al., 2009).
Organic vegetables and fruits were more likely to contain more of these defensive compounds when compared to those produced in conventional farms (Brandt et al., 2001).
This is a complex and well-researched area with a substantial body of scientific literature. To know more about this, you can check here.