Stephanie Robbins
SF Organic Food Examiner

Reducing our food down to its micronutrients is the most unromantic way to look at food we’ve come up with yet. Gone are the descriptions that tempt us and make our mouths water. We’ve tossed out the sweet, tang of a tomato on our lip and replaced it with the cancer fighting attribute of lycopene. But replace we must. In order for science to recognize the health benefits of food and specifically, the differences between organic and conventionally farmed food, they need definite benchmarks to note. Of course, time and time again science does find that organically raised and grown meat and produce are healthier and contain less toxins.

The scientists at the University of California, Davis conducted a 10 year study of tomatoes to find out if organically grown tomatoes were truly more nutritious than their conventionally grown counterparts. The study found that the mean levels of various micronutrients were between 79 and 97% higher in the organic tomatoes versus the conventional tomatoes. Additionally, they found that flavonoid levels continued to increase in the organic samples, whereas these same flavonoid levels remained the same in the conventionally raised crop.

Tomatoes are the second most highly consumed vegetable (although it is technically a fruit) in the USA, second only to the potato. They contain high levels of vitamins C and A, lycopene, and flavonoids (quercetin, kaempferol, and naringenin).

One last thing to keep in mind when deciding whether to eat organic tomatoes, there are more genetically modified(GMO) tomatoes on the market today than ever before. And sadly, our producers are not regulated to note if a product contains any GMO materials. Organic foods are not allowed to contain GMO content. Sneak Peek: More about GMO to come. Stay tuned.

But all of this talk about the science of tomatoes doesn’t account for it’s popularity. Most of us have been enjoying these tangy fruits since long before we even knew what lycopene was. There are various flavors, colors, sizes and uses for tomatoes that span all cuisines. From sauce to fried, to salads and casseroles, tomatoes are delicious, versatile and nutritious.

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