Conventional produce uses synthetic (manmade) fertilizers and pesticides, while organic fruits and vegetables are farmed using renewable natural resources, which help to conserve soil and water. As such, organic produce are not 100% pesticide-free, as naturally-occurring pesticides are often present in fruits and vegetables. Also, organic crops may be fertilized with all-natural nutrients, such as animal manure and plant debris.
Prior to 2006, Canada's organic food standards were voluntary and regulated by the organic industry. Since December 2006, the industry has been federally regulated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), and the new Canada Organic logo was introduced in 2007. As of December 2008, all organic produce must be in compliance with strict regulation in order to be certified as organic and be distinguishable by the new logo.
At this point, it is debatable whether or not organic produce is more nutritious than conventional produce. It is difficult to compare crops grown under different conditions, and unfortunately there exist conflicting studies.
Some early studies showed no difference in the nutritional value of organic and conventional produce. A meta-analysis from 2002 showed that, with the possible exception of nitrate content, there is no strong evidence that organic and conventional foods differ in concentrations of various nutrients. In contrast, a review from April 2001 showed that organic produce contains higher levels of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorous. Additionally, a new report published in March 2008 by The Organic Center claims that organic food is on average 25% more nutritious than conventional food.
Regardless of which type is more nutritious, the evidence linking fruits and vegetables to good health is overwhelming, and I encourage you to obtain the 7 to 10 daily servings recommended by Health Canada.
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