Organic Oranges Sport More Vitamin C

Jun 05, 2002

Organically grown oranges contain up to 30 percent more vitamin C than those grown conventionally, according to Theo Clark, a visiting chemistry professor at Truman State University, Missouri, at a meeting of the American Chemical Society. He and a group of undergraduate students decided to conduct the analysis on the “high-profile fruits” because of a lack of analytical information about the nutritional content of organically-grown produce, says Mr. Clark.

Chemical isolation combined with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy revealed that the organically-grown oranges contained 30 per cent more vitamin C than the conventionally-grown fruits, even though they were only about half the size. “We speculate that with conventional oranges, (farmers) use nitrogen fertilizers that cause an uptake of more water, so it sort of dilutes the orange. You get a great big orange but it is full of water and doesn’t have as much nutritional value,” he suggests, saying however that: “Other factors such as maturity, climate, processing factors, packaging and storage conditions require consideration.”

In addition to the chemical analysis, Clark and his team conducted a survey of 27 households (approximately 71 individuals) in the rural town of Miller, Missouri, to gauge their expectations of organic oranges. Eighty five per cent of respondents believed that organic oranges would have a higher nutritional content than their conventionally grown counterparts. However, 65 percent believed that there was little or no price difference between the two types of oranges, when in reality organic oranges cost an average of twice as much.

Moderator Comment: Will organic fruits and vegetables replace conventionally grown produce sold in food stores in the future?

Consumers who buy organic, often say that organically
grown produce tastes better (even if it doesn’t look as good) than conventionally
grown fruits and vegetables. If the reports of greater nutritional value hold
true than expect to see the sales growth of organics accelerate. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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