Is organically grown food better than conventionally grown food?
IntroductionOrganic food has been defined by Williams (2002, p. 19) as “food which is derived from crops or animals in afarming system that avoids the use of man- made fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators and livestock feedadditives”. In recent years there has been a marked increase in demand for organic produce, primarily due toconsumer perception that these foods are less damaging to the environment and healthier than conventionallygrown food (Chen, 2007). Some of the main reasons stated by Williamson (2007) as to why consumers are purchasing more organic produce include concerns about the environment and the use of pesticides, concernsabout intensified farming methods, and the belief that organic food is safer and more nutritious thanconventionally grown food. Similarly Hoefkens et al (2009) suggest that consumers generally perceive organicfoods as healthier and safer compared to conventional foods, which has consequently contributed to the growthof the organic market. However, despite this widespread perception, disputes have arisen as to whether organicfoods really are more nutritious, safer, and better for the environment than their conventionally producedcounterparts (Fillion and Arazi, 2002). Indeed Aertsens et al (2009, p. 1029) suggest that “organic farming hasdeveloped with little input from scientific research institutions”, which inevitably raises important questionsconcerning organic technology’s productivity and efficiency. Furthermore, various academics have questionedthe validity of organic foods, with Rembiaowska et al (2009, p. 719) stating that “the effects of organic foods onhuman health are not well known”, and Williams (2002, p. 19) indicating that “the widespread conviction held by the public that organic foods are ‘healthier’ is difficult to identify with such limited research having beenconducted”.It is evident, therefore, that there is much controversy regarding the topic of organically and conventionallygrown foods. Within the following report, therefore, the question of whether organically grown food is better than conventionally grown food will be discussed in terms of sensory characteristics and environmental factors.This will be followed by a detailed review of the nutritional aspects surrounding the organic debate beforeconcluding.Sensory CharacteristicsChryssohoidis and Krystallis (2005) have put forward that one of the primary motives behind the purchase of organic foods is consumers’ perception of their sensory characteristics. In addition Lea and Worsley (2005) list1