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Keywords:

  • organic plant crops;
  • quality;
  • yield;
  • composition;
  • nutrition;
  • vitamins;
  • phenolics;
  • sugars;
  • nitrates;
  • nitrites;
  • pesticides;
  • dry matter;
  • health;
  • sensory qualities

Abstract

During the last decade, consumers' trust in food quality has decreased drastically, mainly because of growing ecological awareness and several food scandals (e.g. BSE, dioxins, bacterial contamination). It has been found that intensive conventional agriculture can introduce contaminants into the food chain. Consumers have started to look for safer and better controlled foods produced in more environmentally friendly, authentic and local systems. Organically produced foods are widely believed to satisfy the above demands, leading to lower environmental impacts and higher nutritive values. So far, studies have partly confirmed this opinion. Organic crops contain fewer nitrates, nitrites and pesticide residues but, as a rule, more dry matter, vitamin C, phenolic compounds, essential amino acids and total sugars than conventional crops. Organic crops also contain statistically more mineral compounds and usually have better sensory and long-term storage qualities. However, there are also some negatives: plants cultivated in organic systems generally have 20% lower yields than conventionally produced crops. Several important problems need to be addressed in the coming years: environmental, bacterial and fungal contamination of organic crops and, the most essential issue, the impact of organic food consumption on animal and human health. Copyright © 2007 Society of Chemical Industry