Nature's way

Recent studies demonstrate nutritional superiority of organically grown food

by Guy Dauncey
or millions of years, for as long as mammals and their predecessors have lived on Earth, humans and our ancestors have always eaten organic food. Our physical bodies evolved in the exact way that Earth's organic food encouraged us to: the match between the cellular needs of our bodies and the nutrients which organically grown plants and animals can provide is complete 100 percent.

The movement away from organic food started in the 1860s, when a man called Justus Leibig applied his new-fangled modern, scientific mind to the question, "I wonder what makes plants grow?" To answer his question, he took some soil and burnt it. In the ashes, he found potassium, potash and nitrogen. "Miracles!" he thought. "I've found the secret to life!"

From that moment on, modern farming started to add manufactured fertilizers to the soil to boost the productivity of plants. Today, the production of chemical fertilizers worldwide and the parallel production of pesticides is a huge, multi-billion dollar international business.

In the 1920s, however, a small group of people in England inspired by the leadership of Lady Eve Balfour formed the Soil Association. They started to spread the idea that food was better grown organically, without chemicals. Today, the organic revolution is beginning to catch on all over the world. Denmark has committed itself to 20 percent of its farming being organic by the year 2000, and the Gallo Wine company is the largest organic farm in California.

At last the proof

Throughout the years, however, there has never been any hard and fast proof that organic food is actually any better for you. Instinct might tell you that it is, and the knowledge that you're not eating all those chemicals sure feels good, but where was the proof?

Finally, the answers have arrived. In 1993, a trace minerals laboratory analyst in Chicago named Bob L. Smith started a small experiment. For two years, he went to stores in Chicago and purchased between four and fifteen samples of both organic and non-organic produce. He took the foods back to his laboratory and analyzed them different foods for trace elements, to see what was present and what was missing.

The results are stunning, and should be a wake-up call to the whole world:

Overall, organically grown food exceeded conventionally grown crops significantly in twenty of the twenty two beneficial trace elements. They also had lower quantities of toxic trace elements such as aluminum, lead and mercury.

Trace elements are critically important for our health and for the development of the brain. In a recent paper in the British medical journal The Lancet, Danish researchers reported that organic farmers and men who regularly consumed organic food had twice the sperm count of men who did not consume organic food. (Thanks to David Steinman's article in Common Ground for all this information).

Debugging crops

The May/June issue of Organic Gardening spells out why pests love non-organic food, but avoid crops raised organically on good compost. It describes two studies by Dr. Larry Phelan which show that the European corn borer moths lay 18 times more eggs on sweet corn plants grown in chemically farmed soils than on organic soils. When he carefully monitored the variables, he found that it was the mineral ratios which were responsible. When the necessary minerals are available in the proper balance, plant roots absorb exactly what they need for photosynthesis.

Plants grown in chemical soils often lack this mineral balance. Pests are not as attracted to the complex starches and proteins in plants with a good mineral balance they're like junk food addicts, and prefer a diet rich in the simple sugars and amino acids that are present when the mineral supply is out of balance. Organic farmers have sensed this for years but this is the first time there has been solid scientific evidence.

Reprinted from Guy Dauncey's monthly publication from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, available at:, email: