Organic Update

Quercetin. Okay, so this is nothing new: organic vegetables are better for us than non organic vegetables. I eat only organic vegetables and fruit, and in summer we grow our own tomatoes, arugula, eggplant as well as several different varieties of herbs, plus we have a fig tree, an apple tree, a strawberry plant and a monster raspberry plant (which is attempting to take over our entire back yard at the moment!), which periodically explodes with fruit between May and October and, if we are quick enough, we get to eat some of it before the bugs polish off everything. I also juice only organic vegetables and fruit, since I also use the peels and rinds. Anyway, this is neither here nor there.

My point is, I found a recently published University of California-Davis study ( particularly interesting because it compared the amounts of two flavonoids, quercetin and kaempferol (the latter is extracted from tea, broccoli and grapefruit, e.g.), in dried tomato samples that had been collected between 1994 and 2004 as part of a long-term study on agricultural methods. Researchers compared organic versus non-organic tomatoes. And, quelle surprise!, the organic samples had higher levels of both compounds, respectively 79% and 97%, than the non-organic ones. Science may finally be catching up to plain common sense.

According to the Times UK July 5 online edition (, these researchers believe that the different levels of flavonoids in tomatoes are due to the absence of fertilisers in organic farming. Plants produce flavonoids as a defence mechanism; they are triggered by nutrient deficiency. Feeding a plant with too many nutrients, such as inorganic nitrogen commonly found in conventional fertiliser, curbs the development of flavonoids. The lower levels of flavonoids in conventional tomatoes were caused by over-fertilisation , the research team concluded. So a rich soil may actually not be such a good thing to have in our vegetable garden, after all! Interesting.

Honey Bee Epidemic. I reported in an earlier post about honey bees dying all over the world (by the way, please switch off your cell phones!). This horrifying phenomenon has reached such serious proportions that there is a name for it: Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD, a term coined in late 2006. I don’t want to go overboard on this issue, but I do have an update. A couple of days ago, just by chance, I came across some news about organic honey bees. Apparently, organic bees are NOT dying. That caught my attention, so I did a bit of research into the matter, thinking of my little honey bee friend (whom I saw on my raspberry plant the other day, so he at least is in good health!). Sharon Labchuk, an organic beekeeper from Prince Edward Island, reports that organic beekeepers have experienced no problems with CCD. She says that The problem with commercial operations is pesticides used in hives to fumigate for varroa mites and antibiotics are fed to the bees to prevent disease. Hives are hauled long distances by truck, often several times during the growing season, to provide pollination services to industrial agriculture crops, which further stresses the colonies and exposes them to agricultural pesticides and GMOs. Speaking of trucking bees all around the country, I read that, in order to pollinate the half million acres of almond trees in California, one million “rented” hives are driven there from 40 U.S. States. Talk about stressing out those poor little creatures! No wonder that since October 2006 billions of U.S. bees have disappeared. Billions! Another problem I read about is that bees are being bred to be larger than normal. And, apparently, bigger bees do not do as well as natural-sized bees. Michael Bush is a beekeeper who addresses some of these issues on his website:

It all boils down to being sensible. If you use pesticides and other poisons or try to create a super-bee variety, i.e., if you tamper too much with Nature, eventually you will run into huge problems. And the finished product €”tomatoes, apples, honey, whatever €”may well be toxic and won’t taste as good, either. Need I say more? Organic is the only way to go. Of course, this is just my opinion!

1 Comment

  1. I have been reading your blog today and I am extremely grateful for the efforts you have made to produce it. I would like to discuss some of your experiences off-line if possible. Would you mind making contact direct to my email address please.

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