• conventional;
  • nutrition;
  • organic;
  • processing;
  • quality;
  • tomatoes

ABSTRACT:  Organically grown products experienced a doubling in percent penetration of organic sales into retail markets during the period from 1997 to 2003; however, there is still a debate over the perceived quality advantage of organically grown fruits and vegetables. In a study focusing on commercial production of processing tomatoes, samples were analyzed from 4 growers with matched organic and conventional fields. For the 4 growers studied, individual analysis of variance results indicated that tomato juice prepared from organically produced tomatoes on some farms was significantly higher in soluble solids (°Brix), higher in consistency, and titratable acidity, but lower in red color, ascorbic acid, and total phenolics content in the microwaved juice. Results were significantly different among specific growers, and this may be attributed to differences in soil type and soil nutrients, tomato cultivar, environmental conditions, or other production-related factors. Higher levels of soluble solids, titratable acidity, and consistency are desirable for the production of tomato paste, in that tomatoes with these attributes may be more flavorful and require less thermal treatment. This has the potential to result both in cost savings from less energy required in paste manufacture and potentially a higher quality product due to less thermal degradation of color, flavor, and nutrients. Future work may involve a larger number of commercial growers and correlation to controlled university research plots.